Monday, November 01, 2010

Murder Me Always cracks up West Valley High

By VALERIE DEW/The Valley Chronicle
Published: Friday, October 29, 2010 11:50 AM PDT
Murder, mayhem, humor, and on-purpose bad acting will take center stage at West Valley High School’s annual murder mystery dinner, “Murder Me Always.”

The production centers on a theater company that is putting on a murder mystery, except someone really gets killed.

It’s a play within a play, said director Stacey Bailey.

“In the last 10 years, I don’t think I’ve directed a funnier show,” Bailey said.

She said the cast made her laugh until she cried during rehearsals.

“I thought maybe it was just me that thought this was so funny, but I had a friend that came to take pictures for our memory book and she was laughing so hard she said she could hardly take pictures,” Bailey said.

West Valley’s drama department was lucky this year. The writer of the murder mystery, Lee Mueller, went above and beyond for the actors.

Bailey said while she was choosing a production from his Web site, she e-mailed him and asked if he had a holiday show.

“He said he had one that was centered around a birthday party and he could rewrite it to make it work for a holiday party,” Bailey said.

Bailey said he ended up writing a new show and even included references to Hemet.

“I was blown away! I couldn’t believe he e-mailed me back, let alone rewrite a show,” Bailey said.

This is the second year West Valley has put on a murder mystery, and Bailey said it was a success last year.

“It went really, really well. Because it was new, the first night, we had 30 people, but the fourth night, we had 140 people,” Bailey said.

The murder mystery includes dinner and a chance to win a gift basket worth more than $50.

The guests will eat a dinner catered by Sweet Baby Jane’s barbecue restaurant. Dinner includes smoked turkey, roasted potatoes, vegetables, salad, and rolls.

The guests won’t be served in just any dining room. They will be served in the dining room of a haunted mansion, designed by technical director T.J. Hepburn.

“T.J. designed the (band) room to look like a haunted mansion dining room. He even has a false wall and ambient lighting with black tablecloths. It really is neat,” Bailey said.

Once the audience is finished with dinner, it will be escorted into the theater for the first act of the murder mystery.

Then guests will be ushered back into the dining room for an intermission, during which dessert will be served.

“They can go and have coffee and talk about the clues with each other,” Bailey said.

The audience then will be escorted back into the theater, where the cast will await.

The guests will get to ask the cast members questions to figure out who the killer is.

“Nothing is off bounds and they (the actors) have to ad lib and stay in character,” Bailey said. “Every night it’s a different show because the audience is different and they are asking different questions.”

The audience members will cast votes on who they think the killer is. Those who guessed the killer correctly will have their names put into a drawing for the gift basket.

Tickets cost $25 apiece or $45 for two with a memory book included.

Those who reserve and pay for parties of 10 or more will receive a 10 percent discount.

The Associated Student Body accepts credit cards. Those who wish to purchase tickets with a credit card must call 765-1600, Ext. 214.

Reservations must be made and paid for by noon the day of the show.

Showtimes are at 6 p.m. Nov. 4, 5, and 6.

For information or reservations, call the school at 765-1600.

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