LITTLE FALLS -- The Hole in the Day Players are bringing a new twist to their dinner theater productions at Jason's Supper Club in Little Falls.
This time around, the community theater troupe will present its first murder mystery that demands full-scale audience participation.
"We've done a lot of different types of shows and have found that our audience enjoys talking back to the actors," said Mary Jo Morgan, who is directing the troupe's latest production.
"The audience becomes as much a part of this production as members of the cast. The winners are those who guess right about the murderer's identity and provide the most hilarious answer about the murderer's motivation." -- Mary Jo Morgan Director
"We wanted to find a way to actively encourage their thoughts and participation," she added, "and (the production) is another way of drawing people in."
In fact, the Players liked the idea so much they dumped the scheduled production of "Murder at the Howard Johnson's" at the last minute, in favor of an audience-participation script called "How to Murder Your Boss."
Twin Cities writer Lee Adams, who once worked for the nationally prominent Murder Mystery Caf, penned the script, Morgan said.
The mystery will be presented March 1-3, with a beef-or-chicken buffet dinner at 6 p.m. and curtain time at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and must be purchased in advance by calling the supper club at (320) 632-2501.
Morgan, trained in theater at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., joined Hole in the Day Players shortly after her 1998 arrival in Little Falls, where she directs the school district's human resources department.
Morgan came to the troupe with extensive acting and directing experience with community and professional theater companies in New Mexico, New York and several other locations, she said.
Sarah Pasela, Jason Schommer and Steve Brown, all of Little Falls, play the principal roles in the murder mystery. The cast also includes Sarah Brown, Linda
Stumpf and Jerry Tanner, who plays the Boss.
The audience will have to pay close attention from the start, Morgan said, because it will be up to them to solve the mystery.
Clues will be dropped throughout the first four acts of the production, with final resolution in the fifth act.
At the end of each act, the audience members will be asked to fill in their "super sleuth sheets," which will "identify the murderer and give the motivation for the killing," Morgan said.
The play is written with several endings so that a different murderer is identified each night during the play's three-day run. Prizes will be awarded to the winning sleuth sheets.
The play opens on an employee appreciation banquet where the boss of Margate Boat Works -- a despot hated by all -- is bumped off by one of his workers.
"The audience becomes as much a part of this production as members of the cast," Morgan said. "The winners are those who guess right about the murderer's identity and provide the most hilarious answer about the murderer's motivation.
"It's just a lot of fun," she said.
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