Cast of ACM Mystery Dinner Honored as Artists of the Month

By Shawnees Peacock Mt. San Jacinto College student Well-established community theaters tend to ...

By Shawnees Peacock
Mt. San Jacinto College student

Well-established community theaters tend to represent the heartbeat of the arts and the people in that particular city. Arts Council Menifee members realized the need to bring theater to Menifee earlier this year by having its Theater Division present its very first play,a Murder Mystery Dinner titled “Death Plays a Role”, on St. Patrick’s Day weekend at the Kay Ceniceros Center. Both performances sold out and were very well-received.

This production, directed by the Chair of the Theater Division at Arts Council Menifee, Linda Denver, would not have been successful if it weren’t for the talented ensemble cast. The all-volunteer cast included Hank Kasperek, Gina Kraut, John Overton, Joe Quinn, La Sondra Mila, Darcy Kuenzi, Lois Palmer, Tom Kuenzi, Corinne Williams, Assistant Director and Lead Detective Bettie Spatafora and plus Irish dancer Riannon Corwood.

The playwright, Jack Pachuta, is the writer and developer of this murder mystery. “It’s a satire on murder mysteries,” said Denver.

Due to the nontraditional nature of this play, it required talented actors who could improvise rather than just recite lines from a script.

“The actors have no lines, but they do have to know their characters in and out,” said Denver. “The actors studied a profile of themselves as well as descriptions of their relationship with all of the other suspects in the show.

“Some murder mysteries make the characters act as if they are guests, but we did not do that. We made the actors obvious in character and obvious with their relationships with each other. We even distributed material to all the guests so they can identify who the characters are.”

The nature of this play dissolved the wall that usually separates the actors from the audience. The tables at which the guests were seated acted as the “mini-stages”. Each actor went from table to table. This gave the guests the opportunity to interact with the characters and with each other. Each table was told to work as a group in order to find the solution to solve the mystery.

Although the plot of play was rather dark (it concerned finding out who killed Eileen, who is never actually seen), one could soon forget the serious nature of the subject at hand due to the play’s comedic air. The fun mood and attitude of the play is created by the unique and sometimes wacky characters and their tangled relations with each other.

This Irish-influenced play is ironically built around theater. The plot is advanced by the character Eileen Sullivan’s unexplainable death as she performed on stage. A complication arises, since each of the seven suspects has some viable