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The Alley Theatre Brings an Updated Dial M for Murder to the Stage

A gender twist makes the classic thriller new.

Geena Quintos and Teresa Zimmermann in Alley Theatre’s production of Dial M for Murder. (Photo by Melissa Taylor)

When writer Jeffrey Hatcher adapted the Dial M for Murder script for the stage in 2022, he made one notable change. The married woman at the center of the story still has a lover … but this time it’s a lesbian lover. It’s this revised storyline that the Alley Theatre presents through June 30. 

While the story is revised, the action is still set in the 1950s. Margot Wendice, (played by Teresa Zimmermann) is a rich woman. She previously cheated on her husband, Tony (Brandon Hearnsberger). When he finds out, he hires Lesgate, a hitman (Dylan Godwin), to kill her. Tony makes sure to give himself an airtight alibi for the planned time of death. 

Everything goes wrong when Margot kills Lesgate. Tony improvises and easily frames Margot who is quickly convicted and sentenced to death. But Margot’s lover, Maxine Hadley (Geena Quintos), believes her innocent and is determined to convince Police Inspector Hubbard (Todd Waite). 

Most audiences know the Dial M for Murder storyline from the 1952 Alfred Hitchcock classic film. Gracy Kelly, the ultimate blonde goddess, played the lead. 

Jeffrey Hatcher’s gender twist instantly pushes the Hitchcock classic out of the mind of Alley Theatre’s audience. That’s a mercy for actor Teresa Zimmermann. No one wants to be compared to a blonde goddess, ultimate or otherwise. 

Zimmermann gives Margot wonderful complexity. She’s both a victim and victimizer, sliding from one to the other seamlessly.  

Brandon Hearnsberger is sufficiently sinister and slick as husband Tony. Hearnsberger rightfully earned favor with Alley audiences with exceptional performances in past productions such as Cowboy Bob. He gives an equally satisfying performance here.

Teresa Zimmermann and Dylan Godwin in Alley Theatre’s production of Dial M for Murder. (Photo by Melissa Taylor)

Alley Resident Acting Company members Godwin and Waite (who play Lesgate and Inspector Hubbard, respectively) are well known to OutSmart readers and especially popular with Houston audiences. Neither character is on stage as much as the others; an unfortunate consequence of the storyline. 

Godwin as Lesgate is one of his strongest Alley performances yet. Though his character is not a professional conman, neither is he a natural killer, it seems. Still, he takes to the assignment quickly enough. But killer or not, Lesgate appeals to the audience. And Godwin skillfully finds unexpected layers to the character. 

Todd Waite’s Inspector Hubbard is an absolute delight. Waite’s Hubbard appears purposefully dim at times, when in actuality he’s deceptively insightful. The five-person cast has excellent timing, making the most of Jeffrey Hatcher’s script adaptation which remains faithful to the film. 

Murder director Tatiana Pandiani previously helmed the Alley’s world premiere production of Torera in 2023. That was an artistic success. For Murder, she again has a cast of strong and diverse characters. Thankfully, she treats the lesbian couple with the correct amount of indifference. No sexual sensationalism here. That proves to be a smart choice that respects both the audience and the actors. 

There are appropriate notes of mid-century modern glamour in the set by Marcelo Martínez García and costumes by Rodrigo Muñoz.

There are, however, a few missteps. Geena Quintos remains firmly grounded in the 21st century and never quite adapts a 1950s vibe. The same is true of the incidental music by Sound Designer Mikaal Sulaiman. And the lighting by Yuki Nakase Link ranges from stark expressionism to serene naturalism, all in the same scene. The result is that actors moving just a few steps inexplicably pass from one extreme to another. 

Join OutSmart starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 13 for ActOUT, a pre-show reception for the LGBTQ community and allies, with music, socializing, complimentary cocktails, and appetizers.


WHAT: Alley Theatre’s Dial M for Murder
WHEN: Through June 30
WHERE: Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave.
INFO: For tickets, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez

Olivia Flores Alvarez is a frequent contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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