We dined on a sumptuous meal at Maverick's — Crestview's hot new fusion cuisine restaurant — Saturday evening, where we'd hoped to enjoy Diedre's "A Plateful of Death," her newest murder mystery comedy dinner theater.
After several false starts — during which Phillipe Iglassius Gauntz, an actor of dubious talent, kept messing up his opening lines — and somewhere between the inch-thick prime rib and creamy cheesecake, the director sacked the entire cast and tried to recast the show using audience members.
OK, there's no such place as Maverick's in Crestview.
It was part of the fun show-within-a-show in Act4Murder's latest production, "On Stage for Murder," at Christopher's Uncorked Bistro, the troupe's occasional Crestview stage.
Act4Murder's six-member cast boasted over-the-top, delightfully outrageous characters with performances no less subtle. Cynthia Bergquist, as Diedre, was so wonderfully obnoxious that the 50-some audience members knew soon after the salad dishes were removed that she would be the likely murder victim.
As the second act unfolded during the three-course dinner, the choice of likely murderers grew to include everyone in the cast, including restaurant owner "Maverick" himself, played with bravado by Chris Manson.
So who slipped the self-centered Diedre the shrimp ball, knowing her allergies to shellfish?
Was it the tempestuous actress Winnie Gambino-Wiener (Mary Ann Troiana)?
Or was it Phillipe (Ken Olsen)?
Or Evan S. Even (Jim Downdun), for whom Diedre has the hots — "I can't resist a man in a choo-choo hat," she declares — a feeling not at all reciprocated.
Or perhaps it was the bumbling Dunder Doody, Diedre's ex, from whom she stole the production company.
Audience members were invited to audition to replace the "fired" cast members. At the end, each table's occupants collaborated to analyze the clues, try to guess the whodunit and how.
Act4Murder's "On Stage for Murder" was a fun, fast-paced evening, well acted and full of laughs.
If you missed it, the troupe returns to Crestview on Friday to present "Podunk Pandemonium," a Relay for Life fundraiser, at Foxwood Country Club, and makes periodic encores at Christopher's throughout the year.
Contact News Bulletin Arts & Entertainment Editor Brian Hughes at 682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.