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‘Murder at the Porcelain Ballet,’ a murder mystery written and directed by former SCHS drama student Brian Ivie and featuring several current and former Tritons, continues its debut run Friday and Saturday nights at the school.

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Collin Conway, as Dr. Logan Hollow, points a pistol at Templeton, played by Kevin Ivie, in “Murder at the Porcelain Ballet,” a production of Flashbulb Entertainment, a company made up of current and former San Clemente High School students.
DAVID BRO, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

SAN CLEMENTE -(CA)- A two-act play written and directed by former San Clemente High School drama student Brian Ivie has him and other Triton alumni back at their alma mater this week for a debut run that continues Friday and Saturday nights.

Ivie, now a film student at USC, wrote “Murder at the Porcelain Ballet,” a comedy-drama murder mystery, in about six months and took only 3½ weeks to cast, rehearse, costume, revise and build a stage for the play, using mostly former and current San Clemente High School students to put on the nearly two-hour show, which opened Thursday. He said he relied heavily on the technical direction of San Clemente High graduate and Cal State Long Beach student Colby Nordberg.

The play is a production of Flashbulb Entertainment, a company Ivie co-founded in 2009 with several other Triton alumni and students. The company has produced five short films and a feature-length motion picture, “Farmer’s Tan.”

Ivie describes “Murder at the Porcelain Ballet” as a mystery in the spirit of “The 39 Steps,” “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “Clue.” While it is “deeply comedic and droll, (it) is really about dreams and how they can ‘oxygenate’ us,” Ivie said. “The show carries a vital message and one that I believe to be unique in today’s popular culture.”

Welcoming the audience Thursday night with a quote from Irish poet W.B. Yeats, Ivie encouraged everyone to think about not only their own dreams but also those of others: “I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.”

The play, set in a time before television, takes place entirely in a lakeside mansion on a stormy Halloween night soon after a double homicide is reported nearby, with the killer still on the loose.

Friends and family members begin to arrive for a planned costumed get-together, slowly revealing their secrets, hopes and dreams in often comedic exchanges. Amid the suspense of trying to find out about the killings through intermittent and faulty radio reports, the audience learns about Miranda, played by San Clemente High School senior Kayla Stephens, and her hope to marry Westley, played by former Triton Tavis Robertson, while becoming a ballet dancer.

Bert, a young admirer of Westley’s played by A.J. Wolf, restlessly struggles to be accepted by everyone. And Dr. Logan Hollow (played by Collin Conway) and his wife, Mary (Kimberly Wiggle), reveal a sad reality of faded dreams and failing love.

The mansion’s maid, Charlotte, played by Haley Pavlis, sets about the house smoothing over not only the wrinkled and dusty tablecloths but also the interactions among the characters.

Ivie’s brother Kevin, 16, a San Clemente High junior, is in his first stage performance as Templeton, a selfish, arrogant, “good at everything” newspaper stage critic who skewers everyone with endless quips that lay bare each character’s weakness and essential reason for being.

Brian Ivie said he spent $2,000 on the production from an online funding drive and borrowed what he didn’t have. He said he hopes a San Clemente High School alumni production can become an annual event.

“Adults, in general, expect less from young people, and from the beginning, I told everyone I wanted to defy expectation and encouraged everyone to be professional,” Ivie said. “My mandate was to surpass expectation.”

– Staff writer Fred Swegles contributed to this report.

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