Over the weekend, the fine, dedicated people at Whodunnit Murder Mystery Theater opened their newest show in the Hyatt Regency, Entrée to Murder. Set in a high class, five-star restaurant, it tells the story of the murder of a wealthy woman, and the four staff workers who are the only suspects. In typical Whodunnit fashion, the characters circulate during the dinner courses, allowing the audience to play the role as detective and try to guess the murderer and the motive. Though the cast did their best to breathe life into a limp play, this mystery unfolded in a disappointingly underwhelming way.
Truly, most of the fault lies in Ray Simmons’ unengaging script. It followed the usual formula for dinner theater murder mysteries, with the first act of introductions, the second act of investigations, and the third act uncovering the guilty one. However, in Entrée to Murder, these scenes played out in a rush, not pausing to add any nuance or depth into flat characters. Through overdone exposition, seemingly short acts, and a lack of emotion, the show just comes across as bland. To top that off, the mystery felt very easy to solve. In an audience of maybe 45-50 people, thirty of us answered correctly.
As I said in the beginning, the cast did all they could with this script, and the production itself came across as lively and passionate as possible. The performances were all solid, exceptionally with Makayla Staudenheimer shining comfortably as the sassy, backwoods chef and A. J. Green easily giving his natural authority to another police role. Director Jane Mattingly created movement throughout that also felt real and energetic. The blocking kept the illusion of a restaurant’s pace and the spare set kept the small space from feeling too cramped. My only complaint about the production would be the distractingly sensitive microphones and how they pick up every jiggle and shake of that treacherously wobbly stage.
As always, the crowd did seem to have a good time, the cast really enjoyed their time circulating and in the end, their exuberance made up for most of what the play lacked. Entrée to Murder will play at the Hyatt Regency every Saturday at 7pm ending on June 23rd. Tickets can be purchased through the Whodunnit hotline, (502) 426-7100. More information can be found at their website: whodunnitky.com.
Image: Courtesy Whodunnit