Dinner and a murder – a great way to spend a Saturday night. Fort Hays State University Fringe Theatre Company and University Activities Board presented “Murder Me Always” by Lee Mueller, a murder mystery dinner theatre in two acts, Saturday to Fort Hays students and Hays community members.
It started out as any other dinner theater does – with food. The only thing that was a little different was that it was a self-serve buffet. It took away a little bit from the experience of a dinner theater.
At every other dinner theater I’ve been to, the actors served the food, giving the audience more interaction with the actors. “Murder Me Always” was lacking this, unfortunately, but the impressive acting of the Fringe Theatre cast made up for it.
“Murder Me Always” has a bit of a twist. The actors are presenting a fake murder mystery, but then the director gets murdered and the fake murder mystery becomes a real murder mystery.
Director Alonzo Peeper, played by junior Jamison Green, was delightful. His character was charming and interactive. Green went from table to table, talking with audience members, making sure their food was good and they were comfortable. I was sad to see his character killed off.
After the director is shot, detective Joe Mamet, played by Special Events Comm. Dusten St. Germaine, came from the audience to find the “Murder Mystery Murderer.” It was a scrambled mess to try to find the murderer as Germaine and his assistant Trixie Stoolie, played byfreshman Katrina Husch, questioned each cast member.
The blame shifted from person to person, everyone looking as guilty as the next person. At first, all fingers pointed to Fritz Fontaine, played by senior Marc Hertel, but once Hertel was drugged, the audience had no idea who the murderer could be.
With drama usually comes some comic relief, which was given by Henry Figgins, played by Special Events Comm. Perrell Stanley, and Drew Graham, played by sophomore Gabe Bristow. Stanley was a drunken idiot who messed up all his lines, and Bristow was a stoned fool. Both of them played the parts perfectly, and the audience couldn’t help but laugh at almost every action they made.
There was a Q&A session for the audience to question cast members, and after that, the audience wrote down who they thought the murderer was. The top three choices were Dolores Dumpfy, played by freshman Sarah Werling; Bristow’s character; and the cab driver, played by freshman Brent Garren.
With a surprising twist at the end, Hertel was revealed as an undercover detective and Stanley was caught as the “Murder Mystery Murderer.” I guess no one pegged Stanley as the murderer because he was practically the whole play. Who would suspect a drunk man?
There were a few annoying gimmicks, and the acoustics were awful, but overall, the cast did a great job. I was impressed and would love to experience another Fort Hays dinner theater.