Dinner, Dessert & Dastardly Deeds
Who wouldn't want to audition for a part in a new movie called The Zombie Was an Alien? Now's your chance to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime movie production ... sort of.
Blowing Rock's Ensemble Stage Company will present the interactive dinner theater murder mystery, Murder in Tinseltown, at the Meadowbrook Inn on Saturday, June 19. The fun starts at 6:30 p.m., and tickets are $42, all inclusive.
"Mark Allen Wood stars as Don Howard, a movie director who's sort of a zany Ed Wood protege," said Ensemble Stage director Gary Lee Smith. "The play features a red carpet entrance, auditions and, of course, a murder."
Smith explained that the interactive nature of the production allows the audience to audition for parts in the movie and even grill some of the characters in the production.
"We have re-written Susan Haley's script so it includes a lot of Blowing Rock and High Country references, and that also makes it fun for the audience," Smith said.
"In a normal play, an actor has to think about his character and motivation. In a play like this, an actor has to think about everything that an audience member might ask: Where they are from, where they went to school, what they studied, what their alibi is. So the actors really have to be on their toes."
The story of Murder in Tinseltown involves auditions for Don Howard's new movie, The Zombie Was an Alien, to be filmed entirely on location in the apple orchard on the Moses Cone Manor Estate in Blowing Rock.
Howard is banking on this movie being his ticket to the Academy Awards, and if anyone tries to stand in his way, there could be trouble. In return for financing, Howard has promised everyone, including some audience members, a part in his movie.
The play features zany characters loosely based on Hollywood stars of today, including: Brad Fritz, his ex-wife Jenna Anderston, his current wife Angie Jolay, plus make-up artist Kressley Carson and talent agent Billie Morris.
"They've all been secretly promised the lead role in Howard's new movie, and each will be there thinking they'll be introduced to the Hollywood press and paparazzi as the next big star," Smith said. "None of them know that everyone else has been promised the exact same thing."
The result, of course, is backstabbing - both figurative and literal.
Smith has recruited some A-list talent of his own for this production, including actors Derrick Gagnier, Laura Marshall, and WBTV news anchor Tonia Bendickson.
"Ms. Bendickson will be playing the red carpet reporter at the beginning of the show," Smith said. "As the 'stars' enter the room, via the red carpet, she will be interviewing them, asking about what they're wearing, their thoughts about the new movie, what role they're hoping to get and what they think about the director, Don Howard. It should be interesting.
"The key to this show is the interactive play between the cast and the audience. They'll have a chance to get autographs and have their photographs made with the 'movie stars.' And we guarantee at least one murder. This is not a murder mystery where the murder happened before the play starts. You actually see the victim. It's pretty cool."
The menu for Saturday's murder mystery dinner theater will consist of warm bread with butter; a salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, red onions, pecans with choice of dressing; a dinner course consisting of cedar plank roasted salmon filet with champagne tarragon sauce, stuffed chicken, gorgonzola mashed potatoes, baked broccoli with mornay sauce, and dessert of grilled peach crepes with raspberry sauce and whipped cream.
Admission price of $42 includes all taxes and gratuities, the above listed menu and at least one murder.
For more information, or to order tickets, visit http://www.ensemblestage.com, or call (828) 919-6196.
The Meadowbrook Inn is located at 711 Main St. in Blowing Rock.