El Estoque

Piecing clues together with Drama’s ‘Murder Mystery’

Jennie Chen

Co-authored by Emma Lam

On the night of Oct. 22, the entrance of room F104 welcomed guests in with an inviting “Welcome Aboard” sign. Audience members were led into the black box, which was decorated and arranged to resemble a cruise ship dining room. Curious as to what was going on, the audience looked around.  Many were confused as they thought they were here to see a play written by senior Nelson Niu. After being seated at tables, students, teachers and family members became passengers on the Adventuress cruise ship in Advanced Drama Honors’ Dinner Theater Murder Mystery.   

As the waiters, led by head waiter Patty Fontaine (junior Victoria Xiao), finished taking orders, the lights dimmed and cruise director May Morrell (junior Samantha Millar) warmly greeted the passengers. Guests were told to participate in an ice breaker to familiarize themselves with those around them and drinks were served as guests shared their names, favorite ice cream flavors and preferred pets. The atmosphere was warm and inviting, and the tension in the room was quickly dissolved, allowing a more enjoyable environment to form.

After the ice breaker, singer Carlotta Wilkes (senior Christina Schuler) performed “Hope” and “Maybe Tomorrow.” The songs were sung beautifully and touched many members of the audience as they enjoyed their meals. A pause ensued as waiters returned with the guests’ salads; the waiters were attentive and made sure guests were comfortable.

Morrell introduced comedian Aaron Masterson (junior Jeremi Kalkowski), who engaged his audience with a humorous and, at times, self-deprecating sketch. Afterwards, dishes of pasta and ravioli from Buca di Beppo (a restaurant near Cupertino) were served, and Morrell once again got on stage to address the guests. All of a sudden, she bursted into a coughing frenzy and collapsed, and cast members panic as they tried to figure out what to do.

Tensions rose as cast members turn their backs on each other, each accusing the other of committing the heinous crime. Kaitlyn Smith (junior Kayleen Nordyke), the captain’s daughter and Morrell’s girlfriend, was in obvious grief as she began accusing Fontaine of poisoning Morrell’s drink. Other members chimed in with their thoughts, and the suspect list soon grew with Masterson, Wilkes, longtime cruise guest Geoff Alberts (senior Justin Singh) and even doctor Lily Roberts (senior Manasa Handady). Each repeatedly claimed they were innocent, causing confusion to be muddled within each of the suspects. As the search began to stagnate, Wilkes accuses Roberts of murder. Offended, Roberts launched into a spiel proving her innocence and eventually revealed the shocking identity of the murderer. The actors portrayed each character with grace, and added to the dramatic effect of the play through it.

The cast skillfully showcased such harrowing feelings in the face of a tragedy and captivated the audience with their performance. The performance venue itself was different from those of the past, with past performances having been set onstage. The setting of the cruise ship dining room made it an even more hyper realistic experience, as guests could experience the distress up close. Cast members would also weave through the tables as they acted, and helped to set the tone as they rushed in and out and paced back and forth in panic. Overall, the “Dinner Theater Murder Mystery” was a perfect play for lovers of fine dining and live entertainment or observant individuals interested in putting their detective skills to the test.

Check out the album below for the full experience of Advanced Drama’s Murder Mystery. 

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