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Director comments on 'The Red Box' at The Phipps

Submitted by The Phipps Center for the Arts

"The Red Box," a Nero Wolfe mystery by Joseph Goodrich, adapted from the novel by Rex Stout, will be performed June 1-17 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. as well as Sundays at 2:30 p.m. at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson.

In "The Red Box," a young woman is dead, and the fortunes of a theater producer hinge on solving the mystery, one full of secrets, half-truths and family drama. The police are baffled, so it is time to call Wolfe. The quirky detective and his wisecracking sidekick attempt to unravel this seemingly unsolvable mystery.

"I love a good, breezy murder mystery, and 'The Red Box' is a really great example of this classic theater tradition," Director Ben Layne said. "Rex Stout's creation of Nero Wolfe is a ton of fun to work on, as he seems like the kind of anti-hero that would fit on modern television, almost like House, M.D., if Dr. Gregory House were a brilliant, but often abrasive detective instead of doctor, and were essentially a shut-in.

"Every great detective also has a top-notch right-hand man, and in this case, Wolfe has Archie Goodwin, his man about town, gofer, and at times, hired muscle. We've been having a lot of fun with their relationship in rehearsals, as well as those of the family in question in this particular mystery, from Helen Frost, a smart, soon-to-be-wealthy heiress, to her domineering mother Calida, her blustery Uncle Dudley, and his slightly rebellious son Lew, and her very good friend and mentor Boyd McNair. Plus, a few other colorful characters we meet along the way. Murder mysteries are very much character studies, and the characters you'll meet in 'The Red Box' are a lot of fun.

"I also have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this cast. Their choices in rehearsals often surprise and delight me, and it makes me look forward to coming to work each day. There is a great amount of talent working on this show onstage, as well as a great group of people making it all work backstage as well."

Layne earned his B.A. in Theatre Performance from the University of Northern Iowa. He is co-artistic director of Freshwater Theatre with his wife, Ruth Virkus. He is also a busy freelance director for several theaters in the Twin Cities area, including Northern Starz Children's Theatre, Fortune's Fool Productions, The Chameleon Theatre Circle, Devious Mechanics, Swandive Theatre, and Special When Lit Theatre, among others. Tickets are $26 for adults and $19 for students of any age, with a $2 discount for seniors on the Sunday matinees.

Reservations may be made by contacting The Phipps ticket office at 715-386-8409 or online at Champagne brunch cruise and theater packages are available for the Sunday matinees. Reservations may be made by contacting Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines at 651-436-8883 or online at