Friday, October 29, 2021 – 2:00 p.m.
Cherie Brophy Atkinson is a board member of the Yoknapatawpha Players Theatre Troupe.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee spoke with her again at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Cherie Atkinson
Detective Beckwith: Thank you for coming in. Have a seat.
Cherie Atkinson: You're all lucky I volunteered to talk again, given that the last time you forced me to strip afterward. When am I getting my clothes back, by the way?
Detective Magee: It was necessary to test them for our investigation. They will be returned.
Cherie Atkinson: It was necessary so that your pervy cops here could get their fingers on them.
Detective Beckwith: Ms. Atkinson, are we really going to start this way again?
Cherie Atkinson: Depends, Beckwith. Are my clothes currently in the back of your squad car?
Detective Magee: Okay, that's more than enough. The faster we get on with the questions, the sooner you are out of here.
Cherie Atkinson: Fine by me.
Detective Magee: Then give us your name and address for the record.
Cherie Atkinson: Cherie Brophy Atkinson. Still 999 Muirfield Drive.
Detective Magee: Tell us about the financial situation of your theater troupe.
Cherie Atkinson: It never makes enough money. It never has. It was Glenn's baby, so I don't think that he cared one way or another if it was successful or not. But Glenn's not here anymore, and I'm tired of stuffing money into this drivel.
Detective Beckwith: Lara Shipp has said the theater was not losing money.
Cherie Atkinson: She's Kessler's friend. She sees what she wants to see. If we get six months into this immersive theater crap, the warehouse rental will cost more than the money we're bringing in. Bet my life on it.
Detective Magee: So this is about warehouse rental?
Cherie Atkinson: Yes, once you rent a whole theater, you find out you have to fill it. That means outfitting it with lights, fancy sets, things just to create atmosphere. All that stuff doesn't just come out of thin air. It has to be paid for.
Detective Beckwith: And, as you said, you don't want to be the one to pay for it.
Cherie Atkinson: Not if it's for an experimental idea that doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of working. I've been in entertainment. I know what people want.
Detective Beckwith: What would be your solution?
Cherie Atkinson: Want the hard truth?
Detective Magee: Always.
Cherie Atkinson: Toss Kessler and Goodman out on their asses—and Shipp too, if she can't handle it—and start over with someone who understands that this is a business, not a charity.
Detective Beckwith: Obviously, Ms. Kessler has had her way with the board so far.
Cherie Atkinson: Yeah, she's got some of them wrapped around her little finger, don't she? That's the whole problem—she's Little Miss Can't Be Wrong.
Detective Magee: Who feels this way?
Cherie Atkinson: Most of the cast and crew. Scott more than liked her. It was obvious to anyone with eyes. Neal Caine used to date her.
Detective Magee: Did that cause a conflict between Neal and Scott?
Cherie Atkinson: Nah, Neal and Scott were friends. Kessler's the problem. She'll flaunt her junk all over the set and flirt with board members. Erv would try to date her too, I bet, if he wasn't 100 years old already.
Detective Beckwith: When we talked to Mr. Cyr, he said that the problems at the theater stemmed from you wanting to do things on the cheap.
Cherie Atkinson: I bet he did. Erv is a frustrated old man for sure. I'll let you in on a little secret. Erv is just pissed that when he and Glenn used to visit me at the Rebel Yell, and I gave them a wiggle and a shake, Glenn eventually took me home for good, while Erv just ended up in a pool of his own drool.
Detective Magee: And you think that's why he's supporting Anna?
Cherie Atkinson: Some losers stay salty. Erv's that kind of loser.
Detective Beckwith: What about Martin Vargas?
Cherie Atkinson: Vargas is only into himself.
Detective Beckwith: What about Denis Goodman? Was he supporting Anna?
Cherie Atkinson: Sure was.
Detective Magee: Why do you think so?
Cherie Atkinson: He loves to write these stupid Michael-Bay-meets-Ed-Wood scripts—except without the fun. The troupe never performed them until the board let Kessler go ahead with this immersive crap.
Detective Magee: How about Heath Rushing?
Cherie Atkinson: Heath is the most sensible guy on the board. He agrees that if you want to continue having the troupe, you have to make money.
Detective Beckwith: So he agrees with you?
Cherie Atkinson: He listens to reason as long as he's sober.
Detective Magee: He drinks?
Cherie Atkinson: Does drugs. He's a party guy.
Detective Beckwith: Did he take drugs before the dress rehearsal where Scott died?
Cherie Atkinson: Yes, 'shrooms. He said that it usually calms him down.
Detective Magee: You knew that he took them?
Cherie Atkinson: Yeah, he offered me some.
Detective Beckwith: Did you take some before the show too?
Cherie Atkinson: No, I'm clean. I don't do drugs.
Detective Beckwith: Did you see him take them?
Cherie Atkinson: Yeah, I did.
Detective Magee: You didn't do anything to stop him?
Cherie Atkinson: No. Why would I? It's his business.
Detective Magee: Because you knew that the audience that day would be part of the show.
Cherie Atkinson: I didn't know that the show was going to be a zombie attack. Neither did Heath.
Detective Beckwith: You're both board members, and you didn't know what the new play was about?
Cherie Atkinson: No. I made it my business not to know. No audience member coming to this new play would know what the actors were going to ask them to do, even if they did know that the play was about zombies. So I was going in like a run-of-the-mill audience member. So was Heath.
Detective Beckwith: Except Heath was your run-of-the-mill audience member tripping on mushrooms.
Cherie Atkinson: More than half of people come to their entertainment loaded or get that way during it. Trust me. What makes an immersive play different?
Detective Magee: Because intoxicated people could get hurt in an immersive play.
Cherie Atkinson: Yeah, that's all the more reason not to put on immersive plays then. Kessler knows that people could use drugs before her play and lets them interact with actors anyway. We don't pull drunk people from the stands to bat in a baseball game, right? Bad stuff was inevitable from the beginning.
Detective Magee: So if you're so displeased with the direction of the troupe, why don't you just quit the board?
Cherie Atkinson: Why would I? My husband Glenn never would have stood for this garbage if he was alive. He wouldn't have quit. He would have changed things. But he isn't alive, so I have to go on in his place so that all Glenn invested in this troupe doesn't go down the tubes.
Detective Beckwith: So you'll be fine with using Heath's intoxication and Scott's death as an excuse to remove Anna and Denis from the troupe.
Cherie Atkinson: You know what, Beckwith? You're a real a-hole. I don't know why I came down here in the first place, but it sure as hell wasn't to be accosted by a-hole like you.
Detective Magee: I'll ask the quest—
Cherie Atkinson: No more questions. I'm leaving. And I expect that y'all will get my clothes out of Beckwith's car—washed on his dime.
Interview ended – 2:37 p.m.