Azuay Community Theater presents the uproarious, fast-paced comedy ‘Murder at the Howard Johnson’s’

Jun 6, 2024 | 0 comments

By John Olson

From Thursday June 13 through Sunday, June 16, Cuenca’s own English-language expat theater company, Azuay Community Theater, brings the comedic gem Murder at the Howard Johnson’s to life in Ecuador, promising an evening of laughter and unexpected twists. Performances will be at the theater at Antonio Vega Muñoz 14-46 in El Centro.

Here’s what reviewers of previous productions have said about the comedy: “Uproarious, fast-paced and funny, if you can get a ticket, grab it!”  (Salt Lake City Deseret News). “Laughs are guaranteed!” – (TheaterMania). “A wonderful, wacky adventure!” – DC Metro Theater Arts.

Tickets are available now and can be purchased through the ACT website at

Meet the Cast: Veterans of the Comedic Stage
The cast of Murder at the Howard Johnson’s features three ACT veterans with real comedic prowess. They play a married couple and the lover of the wife, who take turns trying to kill each other for their infidelities. Together, the trio below creates a whirlwind of humor and intrigue that will keep you laughing and guessing at every turn. The jokes come quickly and often and center on their efforts to bring about each other’s demise.

Christine Hanks brings her years of time on various US stages to the role of Arlene, the vivacious and scheming female triangle member. Christine’s dynamic stage presence and impeccable timing makes Arlene relatable and delightfully outrageous. Christine first appeared on ACT’s stage in The Cemetery Club which opened the 2023-24 season with a bang.  Notably, she was cast in that show by video audition before actually moving to Cuenca.

Stevan Ball plays Paul, Arlene’s car salesman husband whose stodgy, conventional attitudes clash with Arlene’s roller coaster of ideas and emotions. Stevan is a member of ACT’s Board of Directors who, with spouse Jan Carrier, performed at the community theater at their previous home in Panama. Both have been instrumental in numerous productions at ACT.

Tim Appling rounds out the cast as Mitchell, a self-important dentist who sees himself as a playboy.  Appling’s smarmy but clueless demeanor make him a perfect foil to Paul’s curmudgeon and Arlene’s loopiness. Tim’s ability to oscillate between bumbling fool and earnest romantic makes Mitchell the perfect third side to the triangle. Tim’s most recent stage appearance with ACT was in How the Other Half Loves

Director Rick Snyder’s Take on the Production
Director Rick Snyder has a recent history of bringing crowd-pleasers to the ACT stage. Originally a performer and director in Chicago’s community theater community, this is Rick’s fifth directing engagement at ACT. His previous directing credits at ATC are The Last Romance, Trumbo, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, and the one-act play Plan B.  Snyder’s approach emphasizes the play’s comedic elements while maintaining the tension and surprise that make it such a twisted “love/hate” triangle gone hysterically wrong.

He said, “Tim, Stevan and Christine will have rehearsed this farce for two full months prior to opening and I can’t remember working with a cast more ready to perform. They are super talented and very funny to watch.” He promises this production of Murder at the Howard Johnson’s is fast-moving and polished.

ACT’s Legacy in Cuenca
This year marks the 10th anniversary of ACT, a significant milestone for the theater company that has become a cultural cornerstone for the expat community in Cuenca. Over the past decade, ACT has presented a wide array of productions, each contributing to its reputation for quality theater. From heartfelt dramas to light-hearted comedies, ACT has enriched Cuenca’s cultural landscape, providing a vital space for artistic expression and community engagement.

The company’s anniversary is not just a celebration of their past achievements but also a testament to their ongoing commitment to the arts in Ecuador.

Performance Dates and Ticket Information
Murder at the Howard Johnson’s will be performed in the cozy 50 seat ACT theater, located in Cuenca’s El Centro. Performances are on Wednesday, June 13; Thursday, June 14; Friday, June 15; and Sunday, June 16, in ACT’s intimate 50-seat theater at Antonio Vega Muñoz 14-46 and Estevan de Toral in El Centro.

Tickets, show times and information and a video sample from the show can be found at

Patrons are encouraged to arrive up to an hour before curtain times to enjoy the bar and each other’s company.


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