Friday, October 14, 2022

Moon Theatre Co. brings murder mystery dinner theater to Berthoud Colorado

 If you like murder mysteries and can remember Wayside Inn’s infamous chicken dinner, Moon Theatre Co.’s “An Audition For a Murder” is your ticket to theater and history.

“It’s going to be high energy. It’s going to be interactive. It’s going to be funny. It’s going to be a great meal,” said Pam Strahan, treasurer of Moon Theatre Co. in Berthoud.

Moon Theatre Co. will perform a murder mystery dinner theater, “An Audition For a Murder: A Murder Mystery Comedy Play,” at two Berthoud venues Oct. 21-29 at Berthoud Activity Hall and New Freedom Church.

“There’s not much to do in Berthoud around Halloween. It’s an annual Halloween thing for people to do,” said Kathleen Gruman, board member.

Plus, it’s historical with the caterer recreating Wayside Inn’s fried chicken dinner with green beans, mashed potatoes, salad and pie for dessert. The restaurant closed in 2007.

“There’s lots of memories about that restaurant here in town,” Strahan said.

Moon Theatre Co.’s performance of “An Audition For a Murder,” by playwright Lee Mueller, is the first dinner theater for Moon Theatre Co. since the pandemic—the group performs a dinner theater every year, most often murder mysteries. This time, there will be an ensemble of 12 actors with Angie Robbins, an actress from Los Angeles now living in Berthoud, as the director.

“It’s fast-paced, comedic and interactive,” Strahan said.

The storyline focuses on a theatre group holding additions for a murder mystery called “Death of A Disco Dancer.” The typical actors show up to audition at Moon Theatre Co., but the director and assistant director have a problem with the “script,” which actually isn’t finished, plus there aren’t enough copies. The playwright arrives in the nick of time with a few more copies and additional finished pages, but then one of the actors mysteriously dies. The inspector serving as technical advisor for the play ensues in an investigation, which may inspire the playwright to actually finish the play.

“The set is real minimal. It’s a stage with chairs where they come to audition,” Strahan said.

As the inspector does his “work,” he will break the fourth wall to talk to the audience and ask about clues to the murder.

“The audience actually gives their input who they think did it. They get to participate,” Gruman said.

Mueller includes places in the script that allow for the interjection of local flavor, so Moon Theatre Co. filled them in with Berthoud mentions.

“We try to highlight Berthoud in the production,” Gruman said. “We mention places, people and areas around town.”

Moon Theatre Co.’s actors and stage hands are at all levels of expertise from those who are new to theater to having years of experience.

Photo by Lesley Jones – Moon Theatre Co. actors will be performing a murder mystery dinner theater, “An Audition For a Murder,” Oct. 21-29, as a way to help celebrate the Halloween season.

“Kudos to us. We are really good at taking in first-time performers or people wanting to learn the theatre arts,” Strahan said.

Moon Theatre Co. casts against typical types, drawing from community theaters in the area, bringing in actors from Cheyenne to Denver. The company performs dinner theaters, plays, comedies, musicals and reader’s theaters, selecting scripts written by local and national playwrights, Broadway and off-Broadway shows, and other original work.

“When you go to the rehearsals, it’s fun to watch the actors grow in their roles, to see them create the drama and comedy,” said Lesley Jones, board secretary.

The performance of “An Audition For a Murder” will be historical with the caterer recreating Wayside Inn’s fried chicken dinner with green beans, mashed potatoes, salad and pie for dessert.

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