AHS Masquers Club to present Murder Mystery Dinner event

News Photo by Diane Speer Alpena High School Masquers Club members involved in next week’s Murder Mystery Dinner include, front row left, Rose Jasman, Iven Brown, Ludovica Brambilla, Amelia Berles and Mady Young; back row, Constance Fluharty, Jade Shadbolt, Samantha Brooks, Ernie Livermore, Jonathan Prevo, Joseph Lanier, Ryan Heath, Olivia Martin and Joshua Rasmussen. Missing from the photo are Miriam Denstaedt and Amber McEachern.

Mystery fans who also like to indulge in a good meal and support a good cause will want to mark Feb. 17 on their calendars. That’s when the Alpena High School Masquers Club puts on their annual Murder Mystery Dinner that serves as a major fundraiser for the group.

This year’s production, “Murder Mystery at the Murder Mystery,” uses the device of a play-within-a-play. As the show opens, the players at The Murder Mystery Playhouse are rehearsing a new show, “Putting a Little English On It.” It’s a not-so-good attempt at a British murder mystery, complete with cheesy dramatic music and British accents.

As expected at the final dress rehearsal, the lights go out and a character dies on stage — only this murder wasn’t in the script. The authorities are quickly called, and soon the company finds themselves replaying the death scene.

When yet another person dies at the end of the scene, the cast finds themselves replaying the same scene over and over for other investigators, a theater critic and even the playwright himself. But every time they get to the end of the scene, someone else ends up with a fire poker in the chest.

The actors are left scratching their heads at the strange circumstances and also worried that they could be next. It all culminates in a wild surprise ending in which the actors must work together to defeat the murderer before he murders them all.

Student Director Olivia Martin said 14 students are appearing in the show, along with additional students serving as waiters and operating the lights.

“We do a Murder Mystery Dinner every year,” Martin said. “The money raised at the event goes back into the Masquers Club account to be used for costumes and other necessities.”

The dinner theater always takes place at Trinity Episcopal Church, with two different settings offered at 1 and 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available by calling or texting 464-7115. This year’s menu will feature chicken alfredo.

AHS teacher Andrea Linton, who serves as the club’s adviser, said the students are doing a good job with the production despite having to work around snow days, illnesses and other commitments that students have.

“We haven’t had a full cast, but I know they are going to pull it off because they are amazing,” Linton said of the students.

She also anticipates the public liking what they see.

“It’s a funny and entertaining show with a big of mystery involved,” Linton said.

A student board made up of eight members makes the selection each year of which murder mystery will be staged.

“Each of us look up shows on different websites and look for murder mysteries that would work with our cast members,” said Martin, who serves on the student board. “We read samples of a ton of different shows, then choose two or three to read in full. After we all read them, we choose the one we like best.”

The Murder Mystery Dinner is one of three productions the Masquers Club puts on each year. They also do a straight play in the spring at Alpena High School and a musical between Thanksgiving and Christmas that’s mounted as a collaborative effort with Thunder Bay Theatre.