10.06.2008

Mystery Cafe at the Milano Inn

I've been wanting to attend a murder mystery dinner for many years, and I finally got the chance last Saturday when Kurt and I went to the Mystery Cafe at the Milano Inn.

The dinner was held in a large room upstairs, completely separate from the main dining room. I was expecting a smaller venue, maybe 15-20 people, but the room held 64 and was nearly full. We were seated at 4 long tables and the play took place in the center of the room between the tables. No flash photography was allowed during the acts, so unfortunately I don't have any pics of the play itself.

There were two actors who each played several roles during the four act play. They were often in drag with the young man dressed up as Liza Minelli (high kicks and all - impressive!) and the woman as a Martin Scorsese-style director. Dinner was served in between the acts. Since you're seated communally, you get to know the people around you, and they can have a big impact on your experience. The table to our right seemed to be the "wild" table where the drinks were flowing liberally. At one point, a tray of jello shots made it their way if that gives you any idea.

Kurt and I were seated next to two sisters, one from Illinois and one from Ohio, who meet in Indiana monthly for a wacky activity. They were friendly and exceptionally nice. Beside them, however, was a man who absolutely did not want to be there and spent the entire evening making sarcastic remarks about the quality (or lack thereof) of the show. It was a little off-putting at first, but everyone started egging him on, and it ended up being pretty funny. I felt sorry for his wife, but apparently she has years of experience ignoring him because she laughed it off and had a good time.

While our curmudgeonly companion was a bit harsh in his critique ("This is as funny as a screen door on a submarine", "Now I know how they torture the prisoners in Guantanemo Bay"), the show itself wasn't exactly what I expected. While it was a fun evening, the play was too heavy on the bad jokes (some good bad, many just bad bad) and too light on mystery for my taste. I had anticipated something more Agatha Christie-ish with lots of clues and a puzzle for the audience to solve. As it was, no one guessed the killer because it ended up being completely arbitrary. We had puzzles at our seats that supplied clues, but they were vague and weren't supported by hints in the play itself. Bummer on that front.

On the upside, 20 audience members were assigned roles. While some were so nervous they could barely speak, a few people really hammed it up. A young guy who impersonated Michael Jackson, moonwalk and all, won the Hammie award, but my favorite was the older man with a German accent who had to yell, "You are a slut!" to the lead actress. Classic.

Kurt knew I was hoping to get a role, so he mentioned it was my birthday, and they obliged by giving me a part. Hurray for Dr. H! That's the good news. The bad news is that I was cast as a Rosie O'Donnell type character. I looked down, read the role, and whispered to Kurt, "I think I'm a lesbian!" which caused everyone in the vicinity to crack up. I did the best I could, but a New York accent would have helped. Too bad the only voices I do are valley girls and vampires. At least I didn't crumble into a pile of giggles like the poor teenage girls at the next table.

I don't know how typical our experience was of a mystery dinner. I'd still like to try one in a more intimate venue with a real whodunit involved. It was good fun though with lots of silliness and a wonderful meal from the Milano Inn. Two thumbs way up for the crusty garlic rolls and chicken parmesan.

Me before dinner. Clearly a Rosie O'Donnell doppelganger if there ever was one.


My role - I opted to improvise a little and forgo the sobbing into a napkin part at the end. My dignity had taken enough of a hit for one evening.

Kurt working on the puzzles that supplied the only clues we were to get that evening.

Minestrone soup for the first course.

The salad was served family style and had excellent garlic croutons on top.

Chicken parmesan, one of the four entrees available. The others were sausage cannelloni, lasagna, and shells florentine.

Spumoni ice cream for dessert.

1 comment:

Bevlove said...

What fun, Becca! I love the pictures of you and Kurt.