Where creepy crawlies sneak, and drama students creak, the Newbury Park theater department meets in the night to eat. Oh the horrors, do you think you’re ready? Murder will be on the plate along with your spaghetti.
“Mystery dinner is in the cafeteria, and everyone is sitting and eating while the show goes on around you.” Kylie Vincent, junior, said. “It’s a whole improv experience.” The cast, made up of solely NPHS theater students, play the role of a rambunctious vacation cruise staff faced with the task of having to discover the murderer among them! In addition to the staff, the story includes an arrogant billionaire, his daughter, two texan cowboys, and an undialed LAPD Agent. “I’m detective Keanu Kawabunga from the LAPD, if you didn’t get that from the show, and I’m a stupid surfer dude from SoCal who really doesn’t know what he’s doing, but somehow his questioning leads to the killer being revealed,” Carlos Idea, senior, said. The event is also a creative opportunity, opening doors to other types of theater the department would not be able explore in their normal productions.
“I think my favorite part is interacting with all the people because I’m part of the theater department and its events, and this is the only time we get to fully immerse ourselves in our audience and interact with them.” Idea said.
This was the theater department’s second year hosting the mystery dinner night to fundraise. “Other schools and companies have done dinner theaters before and we thought it was a really cool concept,” Vincent said.
“Last year we raised quite a bit. This year we’re well on our way, so it’s a really nice fundraiser and it’s easy to put together, and it’s a lot of fun,” Marylin Strange, department director, said. The profits from this event go into the general fund and help the department with putting up new productions and going on trips for theater related activities like state and regional tournaments.
Not only is this the department’s second year hosting Mystery Dinner Theater Night, but after Strange was temporarily absent due to personal needs, the cruise staff had to step up to the plate. “Kylie Vincent just stepped in, I’ve been kind of in-and-out, so she was able to step in and help coordinate and get them on the path, and then I would just come in and tweak a little bit and remind them of some of the things to think about.” Strange said. This ship has already set sail, but with some success both this time and last time around, you can safely expect another mystery dinner next year.
“I’m just so proud of them. I was just blown away by the talent and some of the answers they have to come up with off the cuff I mean, we don’t rehearse that stuff. I mean, I throw questions in here and there during rehearsal, but I can’t think of everything that they’re going to be asked, and you know, some of the stuff that was out there was a little wacky,” Strange said. “They did a really great job. I’m really proud of all the hard work they did. This is something we’re going to be doing annually, so hopefully we’ll start to pick up a little more momentum and word will get out next year, about kind of what it is and how much fun it is, and we’ll see bigger and bigger audiences.”