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Perfect Crime (play)

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Title: Perfect Crime (play)  
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Subject: Off-Broadway, Griff Allen, Perfect crime (disambiguation)
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Perfect Crime (play)

Perfect Crime
Written by Warren Manzi
Characters Margaret Thorne Brent
Inspector James Ascher
Lionel Mcauley
David Breuer
Date premiered April 18, 1987
Place premiered Courtyard Playhouse
New York City
Original language English
IOBDB profile

Perfect Crime is a 1987 Off Broadway play in the murder mystery/thriller genre written by Warren Manzi. It tells the story of Margaret Thorne Brent, an accomplished Connecticut psychiatrist and potential cold-blooded killer who may have committed "the perfect crime." When her wealthy husband, W. Harrison Brent, turns up dead, she gets caught in the middle of a terrifying game of cat and mouse with her deranged patient, Lionel McAuley, and Inspector Ascher, the handsome but duplicitous investigator assigned to the case.

Perfect Crime is currently the longest-running play in New York City history.[1]


The play has been called "an urban legend" by New York Times critic Jason Zinoman [2] because of its long and storied history. Perfect Crime was originally optioned for Broadway in 1980, just after author Manzi graduated from the Yale School of Drama. At age 25, Manzi, then starring as Mozart in Amadeus on Broadway, was the youngest American author ever to have a play optioned for Broadway. After producer Morton Gottlieb, (Deathtrap), wanted to change the play's title to "Guilty Hands" Manzi lost interest and went to Hollywood to write screenplays, including one of the many versions of the film Clue. The play ultimately began its life several years later in 1987, in the heart of Greenwich Village at the Courtyard Playhouse on Grove Street, produced by the Actors Collective, a not-for-profit theater company whose artistic director was Warren Manzi. Commercial producer Armand Hyatt moved the show immediately after its four-week limited run to an Off-Broadway venue.[3]

After opening on April 18, 1987, Perfect Crime has since played over 10,000 performances. It played in several theaters during its early years: the 47th Street Theater, The Harold Clurman Theater, Theatre Four, the McGinn-Cazale Theater and Intar before settling into a long run at the Duffy Theater at 46th Street and Broadway, in a renovated burlesque house above the Times Square landmark, the Howard Johnson's. After that property was sold in 2005, Perfect Crime found a permanent home at the brand new Snapple Theater Center located at the corner of 50th Street and Broadway in NYC's Times Square.

Catherine Russell

One of the most frequent associations with the play is the story of its leading lady since 1987, Catherine Russell. Rusty, has performed the role of Margaret Thorne Brent from the beginning of the play's run. She has missed only four performances (to attend her siblings' weddings). She has never taken a sick day or a vacation day. The subject of Russell's longevity has been the focus of national and international coverage including People magazine and Entertainment Tonight. Russell currently holds the world record for the most performances as a character in a play.[4]


The play has received overwhelmingly negative reviews with a 1 out of 5 rating average on Yelp! and a 2 out of 5 rating average on TripAdvisor.[5][6]


  • Margaret Thorne Brent
  • W.Harrison Brent
  • Inspector Ascher
  • Lionel McAuley
  • David Breuer (appears on videotape)


External links

  • Visit Perfect Crime on the web
  • Original 1987 NY Times review
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