Bill Finley wants the audience to laugh and be a little scared by "The Clock Struck Twelve," which opens Friday at Trumbull New Theatre.
"It is a balancing act," he said. "I'm trying to be careful not to let the comedy overtake that there is a storyline to it, there is a mystery part. I want to keep the audience interested in the mystery."
James Beach's three-act mystery farce is the story of an aspiring singing group that seeks shelter during a storm. They arrive at what they believe is an abandoned house but soon discover it was the site of a murder. And the man convicted of the crime - and his sister - return to the scene the same night.
Tribune Chronicle / Andy Gray
From left, Hannah Gillespie, Ali Limperos and Amy Ronyak play an aspiring singing group stranded in a spooky house in the mystery-farce “The Clock Struck Twelve.”
Before it's over, there are ghost sightings, gunshots and other mysterious happenings.
Finley is making his directing debut at TNT, but he's previously helmed shows at Youngstown Playhouse, Salem Community Theater and other locations. He decided to apply for one of the directing slots in the 2013-14 season after playing miserly banker Mr. Potter in last season's production of "It's a Wonderful Life."
"I told myself when I retired I would direct more, and this is the first opportunity that came about," he said.
WHAT: "The Clock Struck Twelve"
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Nov. 23 and 3 p.m. Nov. 24
WHERE: Trumbull New Theatre, 5883 Youngstown Warren Road, Niles
HOW MUCH: $12 adults and $10 students. For reservations or more information, call the TNT box office at 330-652-1103 between 7 and 9 p.m. weekdays.
He submitted three plays for consideration, and the play reading committee picked "Clock," which Finley has directed before.
"It's been a number of years," he said. "A couple things I remembered that I wanted to do differently, but it was all pretty much new to me."
The cast features Curtiss Barron, Kathy Purdum, Hannah Gillespie, Ali Limperos, Amy Ronyak, Phil Cuthbertson, Susan DeLeo, Alex Jones and Jerry Kruse.
Finley said the show is well-suited to the Niles theater, and the biggest challenges of the production are the technical elements that set the mood.
"There is a lot of sound at the beginning of the show that has to be timed pretty good."