Murder on the menu for latest New Ken theater production

November 24, 2018

It may only be late fall, but the friendly folks at New Kensington Civic Theatre are declaring that prom season has arrived.

“Murder at the Prom” is this year’s s annual traveling mystery dinner production, being presented Nov. 3 at the Eagles club, New Kensington, and Nov. 17 at the Moose, Lower Burrell.

The audience is invited to relive their past and stroll down the lane that love paved as sweethearts attending their high school senior prom.

There’s the opportunity to again bask in the glory of the recent varsity victory and cheer as the king and queen of the prom are selected from among the guests.

Unfortunately, though, those attempts to recapture the glory days soon turn into gory days marked by finality with a capital “F.” It’s rumored that not even Carrie was this treacherous.

The suspects

The list of suspects includes class snobs Charles Jonathan Edward Buckley III and Margot Ralston, the class outcast Patty Primpinpoof, and a couple from the wrong side of the tracks, Vinnie DiMici and Bella Baloopi.

Vinnie and Bella, it’s said, are always making a scene. Bella insisted on coming to the prom, even though she is “in the family way,” or could that be something more dangerous under her gown?

Attend this prom, follow the clues and help the detective determine whodunit.

Fashion tips

There is no dress code, but particularly nostalgic patrons are encouraged to wear their best or, perhaps even better, worst prom attire.

“The show is made for everyone. Just come with the intention of enjoying the mayhem, and you will leave holding your sides,” says Nate Newell of Lower Burrell, who plays the privileged private school boy invited to the festivities.

Sarah McKee of Murrysville, portraying the tough girl from the wrong side of the tracks, promises a show that is hilarious. “It is chock full of one-liners and quips that crack me up every time I read them,” she says.

“You never know what direction it is going to go, or what is going to happen next. It is full of surprises.”

Audience part of show

She loves mystery dinner theater because she is able to interact with the audience, and, she says, “really make them a part of the show.” Actors presenting a dinner show finally get to break the “fourth wall” of theater, says co-director Pam Farneth of New Kensington. “When you’re on a (traditional) theatrical stage there is no audience participation, you can’t break character, it’s very specific,” she explains. “But in dinner theater all bets are off. You can improvise, sit on audience members’ laps, make jokes and interact in a way you can’t with a normal theater production.”

Cheesy fun

Dinner theater is so much fun and “cheesy,” for an actor, says co-director Matt Mlynarski of Lower Burrell, adding, “It’s fun to let loose and have some fun interacting with the audience.”

The characters are definitely larger than life and very funny, he says, but like all good theater they have to come from some place real.

Anyone attending their first murder mystery dinner should “just go with it,” he suggests, “because it will be a lot easier and more fun if everyone plays along.”

The cast is “a fantastic assortment of local stage veterans,” he adds.

McKee agrees: “I encourage everyone to get out and support local theater. There is so much talent in the Pittsburgh area to see, and a whole world of entertainment right in our own backyard.”

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