Friday, November 20, 2015

A Murder for Old Time’s Sake

Photo, from left: Stephanie Nace, Harrison Fry and Vanessa Postil in A Murder for Old Times’ Sake. Courtesy Open Road Productions.
 Musical Murder Mystery at Pellegrino’s Event Center!
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 19, 2015

Rob Taylor (left) and
Kyle Henick.
Courtesy Open Road Productions.
Presented by Pellegrino’s Italian Kitchen and Open Road Productions, A Murder for Old Time’s Sake is a musical murder mystery dinner theater extravaganza that just might have you laughing so hard you spit out your Tuscan Pork Loin (or Parsnip Steak Marsala). It’s funny, it’s got great music, and a complicated mystery plot that you, the audience, will be asked to solve. And to top it all off, it comes with a three-course dinner from executive chef Sam Pellegrino.
I attended a dress rehearsal the night before opening night and came away thinking this is the funniest of the three dinner theaters I’ve seen at Pellegrino’s.
It’s the 20th reunion of the South Pattersfield High School class of 1995, and gathered together is a quintet of former lovers and enemies plus the school principal. There’s Biff (Kyle Henick), the class clown, football hero and bully; Nancy (Vanessa Postil), Biff’s ex-wife who also “like-likes” David (Rob Taylor), the class nerd who invented a self-cleaning toilet and became fabulously wealthy — take that, Biff, for giving me that swirly. And there’s Lucy (Stephanie Nace), who was nobody special in high school and is now a famous mystery writer whose latest novel, Murder Comes to High School, eerily mirrors what is about to happen at the reunion; and Billy (Harrison Fry), class president and most likely to succeed, who ends up as the janitor at South Pattersfield High. Finally, there’s the drunken, idiotic school principal, Horace McGuffin (Dennis Rolly).
from left: Stephanie Nace, Harrison Fry and Vanessa Postil in A Murder for Old Times’ Sake. Courtesy Open Road Productions.
Right after a great rocking song. “It’s Biff” sung by Henick, somebody gets murdered. One of the five survivors must be the murderer, and it’s up to them, with the help of the audience, to figure out who did it. In the process, we’re treated to more great music and comedy plus a couple of spoof commercials.
The entire ensemble is outstanding — good actors and singers, with the bonus that physically they’re even cast to type, not that we even know what any of them look like, but they certainly look the way I would picture them. It was an especially enjoyable treat to see Henick, an actor I have seen only once before, and it was great to see Nace back on stage again after a long hiatus. Rolly and Taylor were both solid, and this is the best acting I’ve yet seen from Fry.
If some of the music is reminiscent of Harlequin’s A Rock and Roll Twelfth Night, it’s because some of them are adaptations of songs from that show and were written by the same composer and lyricist, Scot Whitney and Bruce Whitney, with lyrics for three new songs written by Daven Tillinghast. The band is the Wildwood Orchestra, led by Brad Schrandt (keyboard), with David Broyles (guitar), Cameron Arneson (bass) and Andy Garnes.
There are repeated intermissions during which second and third courses and dessert are served, and during which cast members wander through the audience in character so audience members can quiz them in order to suss out the killer. Audience members can fill out a sleuth sheet with their guesses about who the murderer is and how and why he or she did it. There are prizes awarded from those.
A Murder for Old Time’s Sake was written by Andrew Gordon and directed by Jeff Painter. Including dinner and intermissions, it runs a little more than three enjoyable hours.
A Murder for Old Time’s Sake, Nov. 20-21 at 7 p.m., $45 general seating, $55 front table seating, Pellegrino’s Event Center, 5757 Littlerock Rd SW, Tumwater, tickets online at

No comments: