When you think of going to a dinner theater, it's assumed that you'll walk into a restaurant, banquet room or basement, have a meal and then watch a play from those very same – and often uncomfortable – seats.
That's not so at StarBrite Presents' newest location, the Premier Entertainment Center in Chesterfield Township, where one could say producer Randy Magner is introducing "Dinner Theater: The Next Generation."
Sure, you'll eat dinner inside a restaurant – Guiliano's Italian Ristorante – but when it's show time, you'll walk a few hundred feet towards a movie theater that's been modified for live stage plays. So no longer do you have to contend with that really tall guy seated at the table in front of you blocking your view, or the woman with that really puffy hairdo. Instead, you can enjoy the show from a conventional theater seat with a clear view of all the action. At intermission, you can hightail it to the bar next door and order a quick drink – but don't forget to come back. On time.
Afterwards – if you're so inclined – you can hang around and play video games, bowl a few rounds or enjoy some country western music at Diamonds & Spurs. There's never a dull moment at the Premier Entertainment Center.
That's not quite true – yet – of StarBrite's opening production there, "Murder: The Next Generation."
A murder mystery by David Landau that mixes Star Trek mythology with the legendary noir films of the mid-twentieth century, director Cyndi Heins has plenty of silly, fun material to work with – including a handful of talented performers. However, most of the cast seemed uncomfortable with their lines and techno-babble this past Saturday night, which prevented them from fully capturing their characters' full potential.
Set inside the seedy space station Deep Space Noir, private investigator Duke Stargazer must solve multiple murders that began when a space smuggler is killed after claiming someone stole Meridian crystals off his ship. There are numerous suspects, of course, including a Klingoff warrior. But who had the motive and the opportunity? And will the case be solved before the space station is blown to smithereens?
Yes, but a slicker performance by all involved will help make it a much more entertaining experience – something I suspect will happen after a few more nights aboard Deep Space Noir.
'Murder: The Next Generation'
StarBrite Presents Dinner Theater at the Premier Entertainment Center, 33151 23 Mile Road Chesterfield Township. Fri.-Sat., through March 31. Tickets: $39.95; price includes three-course dinner, show and tax. For information: 586-725-2228 or http://www.starbriteprod.com