The Mystery Cafe has been entertaining (and feeding) audiences since 1989. In fact, it is the longest running interactive dinner theater company in Minnesota. Recently I was a lucky guest at Alma Murder, one of their current shows. I wasn’t exactly sure what I had gotten myself into beforehand. Would it be ghoulish? Could it actually be funny? But as a fan of a good mystery (and also eating) I knew I had to check it out.
The premise of Alma Murder is that you, as well as all of the other guests and actors, are attending your high school reuion. It’s one last hurrah for all the graduates of Mellencamp Senior High, which is sadly scheduled to be torn down the next day. Of course, not everyone will make it to the end alive — such is the brutal nature of high school reunions. Surely we can all relate.
Upon arrival, I was brought to my table by one of the actors in character. This is a nice touch that really helps set the mood. The tables are large, making this outing a good fit for large groups. Be prepared to interact with the cast as well as the other guests at your table. You may even be encouraged to dance the macarena or perform a cheerleading routine! If you’re shy, you can simply sit and watch the show, but then again, you may find yourself gleefully stepping out of your comfort zone. (The crowd I saw was really into it!)
Alma Murder has a cast of seven, each playing an archtype of the highschool experience. There’s a jock, a misfit, an overachiever, a wet blanket principal, a matronly teacher, and a nerd with an axe to grind. The stereotypes are not subtle, and neither is the comedy, but if you love a pun you’ve come to the right place. And there’s no need to worry about blood or gore, because it’s just not that kind of show. “Murder” is in the title, but it’s not very murder-y, if you catch my drift.
Dinner is a three course meal, served between scenes of the show. (Kudos to the amount of preparation that must take place to pull that off!) Our meal started with a simple salad and delicious rolls. Entreés are ordered ahead of time, and from four available options. I had the chicken and loved it. (Well, honestly, I would have liked more mashed potatoes, but when is that not true?) The night was topped off with a scrumptious chocolate mousse — no complaints there. The venue also offers a full bar for all your beverage needs.
The mystery? If you’re paying close attention, you’ll probably be able to solve it. But even if you don’t, that’s really not the point of The Mystery Cafe. People go there to have a good time, not do police work. There are stakes, however. Everyone is asked to write down their accusations before the grand reveal, with prizes given for the most creative. There is even play money available to bribe characters for more juicy details, but I trust that you, dear reader, can solve it without stooping so low. You’re a smart cookie.
Alma Murder is not the only show The Mystery Cafe offers. Currently they are also performing the seasonal I’ll Be Homicidal for Christmas, a premise with a great deal of potential. They also offer Let’s Kill the Boss and Partners in Crime for company gatherings, which both sound like a a lot fun.
My real question is … how do I audition? The Mystery Cafe clearly needs me among their cast. I would make a great dead body or villainous widow.
To learn more, visit themysterycafe.com
By Liz Walker