Dial "M" for Murder

Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder was produced at Weathervane Playhouse in the summer of 2015 and proved to be a challenge for me as a composer. Due to a last minute director change, I had one week to compose music for each transition, as well as a murder, overture, and curtain call. I listened to scores from several Hitchcock films to gain understanding of the style and then dove in creating my own interpretation.


The biggest piece of underscoring is in the murder scene. Since this scene includes a huge thunderstorm, I decided to incorporate it into my composition. The piece grows and grows until the moment when Swann/Lesgate sneaks in and attempts to strangle Margot while she is on the phone with Tony. The fight ends with her stabbing Swann/Lesgate with her sewing scissors as the whistle sounds.

In this show, the actors talk to each other on the phone several times. I did this by placing two standing microphones backstage (one in case of malfunction) with a monitor with a feed of the head microphones. These were fitted with a very tinny EQ to account for being through a telephone line. The backstage microphones were then routed through the house speakers and the stage monitors. The actors were then able to have a live conversation.

Tony, the planner of the foiled murder, is caught because he ended up with the wrong key for his flat. This is revealed by a series of cues that include him pacing outside trying to unlock doors for which he has the would-be murderer's key instead of his own. I used several locational speakers behind the upstage wall and moved footsteps between them. I also used them for shattering glass and the sound of a key turning in a lock. These effects added to the suspense and made the actions believable.

The overture of the play, which references the motifs that will recur throughout.

Tony persuades Lesgate to come over for a meeting. Tony then blackmails him into murdering his wife, Margot.

The entr'acte to Act II, again referencing the musical motifs.

The wheels are set into motion as Tony plans Margot's murder.

Margot's ex, Max, comes to her home for a drink. Her husband, Tony, knows that they had an affair but acts friendly towards Max.

Lesgate breaks into the Wendice house to kill Margot, but she fights him off, stabs, and kills him.

As the police become involved, Tony maintains his innocence despite suspicion from both Margot and Max.

Tony falls into his own trap as the police prove his guilt and arrest him.

Director: Tim Browning
Scenic Designer: Jeremy Hollis
Lighting Designer: Jennifer Sansfacon
Costume Designer: Cora Delbridge

Sound Designer: Megan Culley
​Stage Manager: Julianne Graffeo