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Strangis set to take the stage again at Theatre Coppell

by Greg Ramirez / Dallas Stars

It was William Shakespeare who once famously wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.” Dallas Stars play-by-play announcer Ralph Strangis must take that quote to heart, as he is set to take the stage again starting August 19, this time for his fifth play at Theatre Coppell in a production titled, “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s.”

Strangis, McDonald & Walters
Described as a “hilarious farce,” the play revolves around three characters:  Arlene Miller (played by Laurie McDonald), Dr. Mitchell Lovell (played by Ralph Strangis), and Paul Miller (played by Gary Walters). When Arlene starts cheating on her husband, Paul with a dentist (Strangis), all three characters conspire to murder each other at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Inn. What ensues is a chaotic, hilarious mess that has all sorts of plot twists and surprises.

 “At some point in the show everyone is a target for murder by the two others, “explained Strangis.  “There are doors slamming, and people running around and jumping on ledges. It’s a very physical show.”

In the production, Stranigs plays a philandering dentist – a character he said is a little like Dwight Schrute from The Office.

“He’s a little nerdy, but he thinks very highly of himself,” Strangis elaborated. “Sometimes he says stupid things but doesn’t think they are stupid. He’s a womanizer to the extent that he can womanize and is physically underwhelming.”

Despite this being Strangis’ fifth show, he says acting in plays is something that continues to challenge him.

“Every time I do this it’s hard,” Strangis admitted. “The interesting thing about this exercise is that it requires unbelievable concentration. You really have to be in the moment. I know that’s a challenge for me in my personal life, and I hope the skills I acquire from doing this spills into other areas of my life.”

His cast mates however; seem to think Ralph takes it all in stride.

“This is our fourth play together,” said Gary Walter. “He’s really grown as an actor. His characters are becoming more real and more in-depth.”

Laurie McDonald agreed, and marveled at Ralph’s attention to detail.

“He’s very detail oriented, meticulous - a perfectionist,” said McDonald. “It’s good working with someone like that because you have to meet their level. It’s fun to get to work with him.”

The director of the play, Wheelice Wilson, who has been involved in Coppell’s theater program for over 40 years, also marveled at Strangis’ commitment.

“He’s very dedicated,” Wilson boasted. “Once he commits to a show he gives 110%. He always learns his lines, learns his blocking - he’s very serious. It’s unusual that someone who is so into sports is also into the arts. I envy him.”

Strangis said his love for the arts started as far back as he can remember and is something that has made him a more dynamic person.

 “When I was little, my dad took us to sporting events and my mom took us to the theater,” he recounted. “Because of that, the arts are really important to me. I think I have become a more well rounded person because I have been exposed to them.”

For now, Strangis will take that passion to the stage, in a performance the whole cast and crew knows the audience will enjoy.

“It’s leave your problems at home night when you come to this,” Strangis said. “Prepare to laugh, prepare to be entertained – there’s zero heavy in this show – zero. This show is just stupid and funny.”

Mr. Wilson agreed, saying the play is just a good night out.

“There’s no redeeming social quality to this play at all. It’s just all fun and games – we’re hoping they just get a good time out of it.”

Tickets for “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” range from $15-$18 and go on sale August 1. They can be purchased at The production runs from August 19 -28.

Specific dates and times are listed below:

Friday, August 19 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 20 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 21 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, August 25 8:00 p.m.
Friday, August 26 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 27 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 28 2:30 p.m.
(All Times Central)

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