Students at the College enjoyed a night of drama, mystery and fun at All College Theatre's (ACT) fifth annual Interactive Murder Mystery Dinner, titled "I'm Getting Murdered in the Morning." The show was presented in the Cromwell Main Lounge on Friday and Saturday evening.
This year's Murder Mystery Dinner was written by Lee Mueller. The action follows the reception of newlyweds Edward Crock and Brenda Anne Marie, played by Craig Hinners, sophomore interactive multimedia major, and Ashley Kipness, senior psychology major. Their wedding reception is interrupted by the murder of an uninvited guest, and the characters and audience members must work together to uncover the identity of the murderer.
The Murder Mystery Dinner is an unusual type of drama because the characters are allowed to interact with the audience. The audience can play a role in the action by guessing the murderer's identity.
"It really breaks down the wall between the actors and the audience," Susan Pedersen, a sophomore English major who played the DJ, said. "Instead of pretending no one is watching us, the Murder Mystery players thrive on audience participation and feedback."
Amanda Ganza, sophomore biology major and the inebriated mother of the bride, shares in Perdersen's outlook.
"The entire production has such a welcoming atmosphere and it makes the audience feel like they are a part of the show," Ganza said. "A lot of the students come to see their friends and try to get them to break character, and it is fun to be able to ask the actors questions and venture a guess as to who committed the murder."
Another aspect to the Murder Mystery Dinner is that every character is important, from the biggest roles to a member of the ensemble. This is due to the fact that every cast member interacts with the audience and everyone in the play is a suspect in the murder investigation. The murderer turned out to be "the mysterious stranger," played by Jess Noll, junior philosophy major.
"Playing my character is a lot of fun," cast member Lemor Bar-or, junior elementary education/sociology major, said. "Although it is not a principal role, it is somewhat integral to the plotline and it also gives the audience one more reason to question their response as to who is the murderer."
The Murder Mystery Dinner is one of the many productions that ACT puts on at the College each year. According to ACT's president and director of the show, senior philosophy major James Van Strander, ACT is responsible for two small-scale productions and four large-scale productions each year, which he says is an appropriate amount for the organization to handle.
"I feel the current number of productions is quite acceptable," Van Strander said. "Production periods for large-scale productions run about five weeks, so we're busy almost all year long."
The Murder Mystery Dinner, which featured catering by Mama Flora's, proved to be a memorable experience.
Senior finance major Mike Scotto attended a performance and said the cast members are not alone in their viewpoint that this type of show is unique at the College.
"Sometimes I feel like there aren't a lot of activities," he said. "This type of performance really breaks the mold and gives students something different to do."