June 17 • 01:20 AM

Monsters, mystery, murder

Local actors plan Halloween-themed murder mystery dinner

October 15, 2008
Dinner, drinks and dastardly deeds are in the works just in time for Halloween during a 'Monster Murder Mystery Dinner' planned for 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 25 at the American Legion Hall in Lapeer.

The evening of adult fun is being presented by a group of talented local actors to benefit Dreamcatchers for Abused Children.

Sponsored by local businessman and life coach Rod Robertson and Skymanitou Production Company, the first area Halloween-themed murder mystery dinner will engage the audience with mischief and mirth, Robertson says.

"There's always something going on, things thrown out there to pull the audience in," he says. "When the guests take their tables, you never know—the killer could be sitting with them or somewhere on the stage."

Audience involvement is part of the fun of murder mystery dinners, Robertson adds, especially since they'll have the chance to solve the crime and vote on who they believe the murderer is.

The story unfolds in Transylvania, of course, and involves the murder of the town's young beauty. Suspects include Dracula, Poison Ivy, Kruella, Lurchio and more.

"It's fun, frivilous entertainment just in time for Halloween," he adds.

Robertson, who is familiar to those who frequent Lapeer Community Theater productions, says he's assembled a cast of characters that are perfect for the spooky thriller and the challenge of dinner theater.

"It's mostly improv," Robertson says of the evening's performance. "While there is a script, the fun really happens when the actors start to veer off script and watching what they do next is just funny. That's why I picked the people who are in the production. It's just great to watch how their minds work with this."

Imlay City’s own Theresa Brandt gears up for role as Kruella DeVille in upcoming murder mystery dinner performance.
The cast includes Imlay City's own Theresa Brandt as Kruella DeVille, brothers Mike and Pat Powell, Dave Kennedy, Adam Schott, Julianne Somers, Deanna Ziots, Andrea White and a special guest star who'll be playing the murder victim's ghost.

Brandt, 43, began her foray into com-munity theater about three years ago when the Lapeer Community Theater produced Wizard of Oz. She'd been interested in act- ing throughout her life, but gave it up after high school. Since 'Wizard' is one of Brandt's favorite stories, she decided to seize the moment and try out for the play.

"I got up some courage and auditioned and got a part," Brandt says.

Since then, she's appeared in The Christmas Angel and Harvey. Still, taking the stage still has its "butterfly effect."

"The more you do it the easier it gets," Brandt laughs. " But I still get a little nervous every time."

Though she's a little nervous about the improv involved with dinner theater, Brandt's really pleased with being cast in the play.

"I'm not an old lady and I'm not a pregnant mom," Brandt says refer-ring to her rolls in Harvey and The Christmas Angel. "That's why when Rod called and said 'How would you like to do something a little different?' I grabbed at the chance."

Performing in a small town venue is "something different" for veteran actress Julianne Somers. Having just moved to the area from LA seven months ago, Somers was affiliated for years with the B Street Theater in Sacramento. She has also landed roles in a number of independent films and was included in the California Film Festival. While in California, Somers earned the rare distinction of earning a living as an actress performing with a professional theater company for five years.

"I really enjoy doing dinner theater because it's very entertaining," Somers says. "You get theater and dinner all in a package deal. And with the mystery dinner there's a lot of audience involvement. It's a lot of fun."

Cast as the Bride of Dracula, Somers appreciates the tie-in with the Halloween season and is proud to be involved in an effort to raise funds to help abused children.

"I really like that we're doing it for Dreamcatchers child abuse charity," Somers says. "And the tie-in with the Halloween season makes it especially fun.

With a recent appearance in LCT's Godspell, Robertson snapped at the chance to involve Somers in his production. Both veteran actors will likely bring their own special chemistry to the mix—as Robertson will be her on-stage "husband" in a character he's anxious to take on.

"I'm Dracula, of course," he says with a grin, adding that he didn't land that particular role in LCT's production of 'Dracula' last year. "I can't wait to transform into the character."

Along with the entertainment, guests will enjoy a dinner buffet, cash bar, music, dancing and more. Show-goers are encouraged to get into the act by dressing up for the occasion.

"It's not mandatory, but why not come in costume? It's part of the fun," Robertson says.

For those who do choose to dress up, a costume contest is planned as well.

Guests can also bid on a variety of goods and services donated by area businesses and professionals in a silent auction. All pro-ceeds will benefit Dreamcatchers.

The show is planned for 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 25 at the American Legion Hall on Genessee St. in Lapeer. Tickets for the evening's entertainment are $30 each or two for $50. Seating is limited to 100, so guests are encouraged to reserve a spot early. Tickets may be purchased in person or by credit card over the phone. Stop in at the American Legion Post #16, 1701 W. Genesee St., Lapeer or pre-order by calling 810-664-9312.

For more information or to make a donation to the silent auction call 810-245-1271 and leave a message.

"We're having a lot of fun with this," Robertson says of the cast and crew, "It's going to be a good time."

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