Starlight Dinner Theatre, Lansing’s premier dinner theatre, will present “Knock ‘Em Dead,” the hilarious “you-solve-it” murder mystery by Tom Oldendick and Will Roberson beginning May 7.
“It was too dark, too hot and too wet. A shroud of rain hung over the city and threatened to foreclose on the south side of town. Violence boiled up from the steaming asphalt and hovered in the air like an unpaid bill.” Thus begins Starlight Dinner Theatre’s presentation of “Knock ‘Em Dead,” set at a hole-in-the-wall club called “Vinnie’s Belly Laugh.” On this night, Vinnie is hosting a talent competition and one by one the odd and suspicious characters are introduced along with their “talents.” The results are deadly as one of them turns out to be a murderer.
If you like “Clue,” the game or, especially, the movie, this is the perfect play for you. This is pure fun, so come ready to laugh.
Beginning with the second act, “Knock ‘Em Dead” becomes interactive with the audience. The audience gets involved and helps determine the end of the play. During intermission, audience members are encouraged to talk to the performers, who remain in character, and ask them questions about the murder. Then, throughout most of the second act, the audience gets to really drill the characters on stage in search of the murderer, like a combination of “Clue” and “Whose Line is it, Anyway.” According to director Terry Jones, about 50 percent of the second act will be improvised. (One hint: The butler did not do it.)
The cast is an interesting mix of over-the-top characters, including Lou Dumbell, a smarmy MC (Jason Carlen); Bamby Lynn, a pom-pom toting cheerleader (Sarah Fowler); Roxie Barn, an overbearing comedienne (Marni Darr Holmes; Lotta Verboten, a German blues singer (Mara Schaberg);Hal Brown, a not-so-good ventriloquist (Terry Jones); Great Somnambulo, an egotistical hypnotist (John Roche); Ian Wayne, a drag queen with a lip-synching Maltese (James Houska); Vinnie Bumpcuss, the club’s owner (Todd McKenzie) and FiFi, the lip-synching Maltese (Cali Edgerly-Hanratty).
It should be noted that this show does include some adult themes and may not be suitable for all ages. No nudity or real violence is shown on stage, but there is some language and sexual content, so parents may want to use discretion.
Performances are May 7-8 and 14-15. Reservation check-in is from 6-6:30 p.m. Dinner is served at 6:30 p.m., with the show beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Waverly East Intermediate School, located at 3131 W. Michigan Ave., Lansing.
Reservations are required if you choose to do both dinner and the show, and tickets must be pre-paid. Ticket prices include dinner and the show for $30, $25 for seniors (62+) and students 22 and under with a valid student I.D. Show-only tickets are available for $15, and can be purchased at the door.
For more information or to make reservations, contact Starlight Dinner Theatre at 517-243-6040 or visit http://www.starlightdinnertheatre.com.