Doc Robbins, a dentist with a heart of stone, rules the town of Last Gulp with an iron fist. Though folks treat Doc with due respect as their mayor and the only “medical” man in the territory, there’s no shortage of suspects when he dies following a swig of rat-poisoned sarsaparilla. Everybody, it seems, had it in for Doc. Bonnie Vivant wanted to turn her old saloon into a fancy restaurant, but Doc wouldn’t let her. Three old prospectors Crusty, Dusty, and Musty, all resented the fact that Doc had jumped their claims and wondered if he ever struck it rich. After all, Doc always had a roll of bills on him. And what about Minerva and Luella, two axe-carrying reformers out to demolish the Last Gulp Saloon? Why do they happen to show up the very day Doc meets his maker? Then, out of the blue, who should drop by for a visit but Count Stroganoff, a Russian tourist who has to be hiding something. It’s up to Sheriff Daisy Haynes and Deputy Pablo Schwartz to solve the crime using their step-by-step guide, "Sheriffing for Dummies." Fortunately, they’re assisted by old Mrs. Culpepper who knits up a storm and manages to tie all the loose ends together. This wild West whodunit is sure to please!
PLAYWRIGHT CRAIG SODARO
TALKS ABOUT “LAST GASP AT THE LAST GULCH”
Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS PLAY?
A.: I love to write mysteries, particularly whodunits, but it’s a challenge to come up with a new twist on the basic mystery plot. Since we’ve just moved to Phoenix, my wife and I have been trying various restaurants and stopped by one that’s famous for down-home true western grub. Looking around the old, saloon-like atmosphere, I decided that it would be lots of fun to set a whodunit back in the days of stagecoaches and outlaws with names like “Rattlesnake Charlie.” Cell phones and texting sometimes take the mystery out of mysteries!
Q. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART IN THE PLAY?
A. I enjoy the dual identities of Minerva and Louella the best. It’s a nice opportunity for a couple of good actresses to play the righteous do-gooders and then turn around and become ruthless villains. I also enjoy the quick thinking of Edna when she uses Minerva’s disappearance to flush out who Rattlesnake Charlie had come to town to see. She’s a pretty clever one!
Q.: WHERE DO THE CHARACTERS COME FROM?
A.: I’ve known a few people like Dusty and certainly people like Bonnie (until the end, of course!). Otherwise, the characters are just fabrications designed to provide actors a good time playing them.
Q.: WHAT DID YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE WITH THE PLAY?
A.: I hope that audiences laugh and have a great time trying to figure out whodunit. And I hope the cast and crew find the play easy to produce and lots of fun to put together. I have tried to keep things easy for the director so “Last Gasp” is an enjoyable experience.