Dinner, dancing and detective work


The Old Courthouse Theatre rings in the New Year with annual Murder Mystery dinner theatre celebration

By Christie Barlow
[email protected]

The Old Courthouse Theatre is ringing in the New Year with a little dinner, dancing and a good old-fashioned murder mystery.
On Monday, Dec. 31, the Old Courthouse Theatre will hold it’s annual New Year’s Eve Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre and Silent Auction.

The event, being held in the Smith Tower at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, starts at 8 p.m. and ends sometime after midnight. Detective work is on the menu for those who attend the event. For $65, the evening includes dinner, a DJ, champagne at midnight and the chance to solve a murder mystery.

“You’re going to an event where you’re a part of the show,” said Jonathan Ewart, an actor in the show. “Yes, there are certain things that happen, but a lot happens in between dinner and dancing. The characters and people are interacting. You have no idea if you’re a part of the scene or not.”

This year’s program, “Murder At The Speakeasy,” features gangsters and flappers and tells the story of Lutz Leggers murder. Guests are transported back four hours in time to the events leading up to Leggers’ murder. From there, various scenes are re-enacted and guests are left to determine who killed Lutz.

When they arrive, guests will be greeted and seated by actors participating in the mystery. Throughout the night, the actors will portray different scenes in the form of vignettes ensuring everyone can see the action. When they’re not performing key scenes, the actors themselves will remain in character while they mingle with guests providing additional clues.

“The more the audience plays with them and asks them questions, the more fun it is,” said Anne Wilson, who helps organize the event. “(The actors) are in character from the time guests get there. It’s a lot of silly fun.”

The important scenes are played out as vignettes so that guests can have a break to dance and socialize with friends without missing any important information, Wilson said. At the end of the evening, guests can cast their ballots and vote on who committed the crime and how. Once all the answers are in, the actors will replay the death scene and reveal how things happened. For those who guess correctly, names will be drawn and door prizes will be awarded.

“I always tell folks ‘come have a good time, you’re not Perry Mason,’ ” Wilson said. “But you do have folks who ponder and question and sometimes they’re right. Then there are folks who just guess right.”

In addition to the entertainment, guests can also bid on various art pieces in the silent auction. Proceeds from the event will help fund programs at the Old Courthouse Theatre. The New Year’s celebration serves as the major fundraiser for the theater. The theater is run entirely by volunteers and the bulk of their budget for the year comes from the Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre, Wilson said.

Aside from the New Year’s fundraiser, the Old Courthouse Theatre relies on profits from ticket sales, donations and a small grant they receive.

• Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

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