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Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre returns to Lancaster High School

BY: Community Papers of WNY Staff | April 28, 2014

The Lancaster High School Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts is holding its annual Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre on Saturday, May 10. The show, “Murder at the Tonylou Awards,” is an audience participation, murder-mystery dinner theatre piece by Tony Schwartz and Marylou Ambrose. Dinner theatre performances will take place at 1 and 5 p.m. at Lancaster High School.

This extravaganza of a show is a spoof on the Tony Awards and features all the "stars and starlets" in the theater industry, as well as some "big names" in the movie business. In the spirit of all the glamour and glitz we have come to expect at an awards show, audience members are invited to come dressed in evening attire (though of course it's not a requirement).

The Tonylou Awards Show begins as celebrity gossip columnist Constance Gabbles (played by Erica Kilgore) greets and insults each celebrity at the door. Then we turn the show over to the talented host T.J. Hardcastle (Maxwell Vogel), heir of the famous singing, dancing and flying Hardcastles. T.J. makes his introductions and the ceremony is officially under way.

But wait, is there trouble in paradise? Lorna Lush (played by Zoe Chmielewski), has-been stage diva, is about to publish her tell-all book. Monty Carlo (Ryan Blunt) might be a star in his own country, but his English is almost unintelligent — sorry, unintelligible. Celia B. DeMilo (played by Alexis Oczowinski) has a weakness for young men, and her newest boy-toy Claude-Jean (Kyle Moore) will do anything to become a star. M.J. Hardcastle (played by Jamie Burdick) carries a grudge against her brother and his wife, Angelina Canoli (Melissa Mercado), who "wins" an award every year. Funky Brewster (played by Sydney Kelly) is absolutely adorable, but is there a nasty secret lurking under that innocent exterior?

It seems like everyone has a nasty secret, so keep your eyes and ears open and gather clues, because at evening's end, someone will be ruthlessly murdered, and it's up to you to guess “who done it” and why. Rounding out the cast as announcer and M.C. for the evening is Sarah Poremba.

The dinner theatre performances take place during the Lancaster Festival of Arts, which features a district wide K-12 art show, art sale, music performances, children’s activities and art honor societies’ “Living Masterpieces.” The Arts Academy will also be sponsoring a huge theme basket raffle during the event, which featured over 200 baskets and gift certificates last year. The festival is open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 10.

Entrance to the Festival of Arts is free. Tickets for the Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre are $15 and include admission to the show, a Chiavetta’s chicken dinner, drink, dessert and a free spin on the prize wheel. There are two performances: a 1 p.m. matinee and a 5 p.m. evening show. Chiavetta’s dinners will also be available for take-out beginning at 1 p.m.

The fun all happens at Lancaster High School, 1 Forton Dr., Lancaster. For more information and reservations, call 686-3276 and visit www.lancasterschools.org/artsacademy. Seating is limited so advance ticket purchases are strongly encouraged. Proceeds from the dinner theater event will benefit the Arts Academy students and will be used to fund scholarships, purchase supplies, and to pay for tickets and transportation to art and music related events and activities.

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