The Puzzler

I had a workshop for The Puzzler with two longtime fellow actors. The Puzzler was a play that was in my head for a very long time, so I finally decided to get it out of my head and just write it. The scene in my head was very simple. It was just a table covered with puzzle pieces and stacks of notebooks, and two chairs, one for each character.

Normally, after a play is workshopped, the playwright takes the feedback of what worked and didn’t work, and then starts the process of reworking the play.  I went into the workshop with that expectation. The first reading, the actors simply recited the lines to get a feeling for the script. I asked for feedback. Their thoughts were the same as mine. It flowed well and carried the story. Next they went to a table and chairs and ran through the script. The consensus … it played very well and I walked away with a short list of possible improvements.

The chances of writing a script and having the first draft be almost the same as the final draft is almost inconceivable. I came home after this and thought more about it. I worked in the suggestions into the script but couldn’t stop fighting the fear that I was missing something important.

We first performed The Puzzler for Hyde Park’s Frontera Fest on January 31, 2018. The festival had a 25 minute performance limit but we were running about 50 minutes. So, we cut, and we cut, and we cut. We finished the performance in 23 minutes.

Since then we have been doing the uncut version of The Puzzler as a dinner theatre piece. It has grown and evolved from the first draft but is very close to the original. It works out as an amazing four-course dinner theater piece. There are five scenes and between each scene a course is served while a musician plays.

The script has both the long and short versions with alternative endings.

If you are interested in performance rights please send us a message through the contact page.


Frontera Fest – January 31, 2018: This is the performance at Hyde Park that had a 25-minute length limit. So it has a lot of dialog cut from it.

Fat Cat Dinner Theater performance – July 23rd 2021: This was the first dinner theater performance at The Fat Cat in Smithville, Texas. The Fat Cat has always been very supportive of my writing, plus they have amazing food with a great wine selection.

Bastrop Christian Church building restoration fundraiser – The closing performance on 1/28/2023 of the fundraiser.

Production History

Texas Non-profit Theatre (TNT)  TEXFest 2023 – February 25th 2023

Award  – Audience Acclaim Award

Bastrop Opera House took The Puzzler to compete in TNT’s TEXFest2023. The cast, crew, and directors created a play  the audience of actors, directors, and other people in the theatre world, loved. The audience had the opportunity to vote on the production they felt was most deserving and they chose The Puzzler over plays by renowned playwrights such as Neil Simon, Horton Foote, and Aaron Posner.

Actors: Blanch – Carly Bartee  Weldon – Jack Lewis

Directors – Dustin Bartee and Lisa Holcomb

Lighting and sound – Mike Fahrenthold

Stage crew – Miriam Fahrenthold and Vincent Fahrenthold

Bastrop Christion Church – January 20th, 21st, 27th & 28th 2023

The history Bastrop Christian Church was looking for a way to raise money for the preservation/restoration of their historic building built in 1895. There were structural repairs needed and all the beautiful stained glass windows needed to be restored.

Actors: Blanch – Carly Bartee  Weldon – Jack Lewis

Musicians: Lauren Mazoch, Geno Gottschall

The Fat Cat – November 18, 2022

Actors: Blanch – Christy Branch  Weldon – Jack Lewis

Musician: Matt Torrez

Rising Sun Vineyard – October 15, 2021

Actors: Blanch – Shelly Wynn  Weldon – Ronnie Lanier

Musician: Jerry Winkelmann

The Fat Cat – September 11, 2021

Actors: Blanch – Shelly Wynn  Weldon – Ronnie Lanier

Musician: Matt Torrez

The Fat Cat – July 23, 2021

Actors: Blanch – Shelly Wynn  Weldon – Tom Bettes

Musician: Jerry Winkelmann

Rio Social House – October 10 & 18, 2020

Actors: Blanch – Christy Branch  Weldon – Ronnie Lanier/Tom Bettes

Musician: Geno Gottschall

Hyde Park’s Frontera Fest – January 31, 2018

Actors: Blanch – Lisa P  Weldon – Dannie Absher

Leave a Reply