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Plant City Observer Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 4 months ago

Solving the ‘Murder at Mike’s’

There’s been a murder at Mike’s 50’s Cafe and you’re invited to sieve through the chaos and attempt to guess which of the annual Mystery Dinner Theater’s cast is the deadly culprit.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

A murder is coming to Plant City.

This year’s Mystery Dinner Theater, hosted by the Friends of the Bruton Memorial Library, is adding a dash of 50s nostalgia to its comically devious repertoire.

Join some of the hottest residents in town at a new restaurant called Mike’s 50’s Cafe. Everyone is gathered for its grand opening, but as the night progresses secrets are bound to come out. During the chaos, one person decides murder is the only way to keep things firmly buried in the dark. Now everyone must unite to figure out who would dare go to such drastic lengths to keep their secrets hidden.

“The whole premise of these shows is to laugh and have fun,” director Dodie White said. “The more fun these actors have on stage, the more fun the audience has. And with this cast, it’s sure to be a good time. We haven’t been able to have a rehearsal without laughing.”

Brian West, Bill McDaniel, Jon Poppell, Jennifer Morgan, Dan Raulerson, Tina Pike, Verna McKelvin, Frank Cummings, Kayla Drawdy, Jana Butler, Michael Cameron and David Davenport will be providing the entertainment for the evening. While a few have become fan favorites over the years at the show, several of the actors are hitting the stage for the first time.

White said in all her years being involved with the show she has never had a cast member say they didn’t want to come back and reduce the crowd to a laughing mess at the next year’s show.

The one-night-only spectacle is one of the most anticipated events of the year. Guests enjoy dinner, an open wine and beer bar and the show. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at Bruton Memorial Library, Regions Bank, Holiday Inn Express and Walden Lake Car Wash.

The Friends of the Bruton Memorial Library are also still looking for sponsors, which range from $250 to $1,000. Potential sponsors can get involved by emailing [email protected] or [email protected].

The cast had its first read-through in June and began rehearsing on July 5. However, they won’t find out who the murderer is until the night of the show to ensure no one in the audience can weasel the answer out before the curtain opens at 7 p.m. on Aug. 17.

“The best part about this is you don’t really need to know your lines,” Raulerson said. “These folks come up with funnier lines anyway on the spot. There’s a lot of ad-libbing and it always makes for a fun night.”

Each year White said they try to add something new or different to the program. This year, the audience is asked to join the cast in a rousing rendition of the Hand Jive.

Guests are encouraged to wear 50’s themed attire — poodle skirts, leather jackets, white t-shirts, saddle oxfords, etc. — but it is not required for attendance. “Murder at Mike’s” is a mix of both slapstick and witty humor and is sure to appeal to all audiences.

Though the shows are technically family friendly, it is best suited for adults. Many use it as a perfect date night or girls night out event. During the intermission cast members will be walking among the tables with clues that can be purchased for $2 each or three for $5. Those clues may be the difference between successfully guessing the murderer or epic failure.

Gail Lyons, president of the Friends of the Bruton Memorial Library, said the group uses the funds raised throughout the evening to support the library. It will help expand the library’s resources and facilities, the children’s summer program, cultural and educational events presented at the library, as well as help fund scholarships for local high school students.

The service it provides for the library is a big draw for many of the cast.

“It’s a huge investment to not just the library, but to the community as a whole,” Morgan said. “Because of the transient students that we have because of the strawberry industry and things like that, we have a lot of children that don’t have access to computers and books. The library really does a great job of allowing children to come and access those resources, which is a huge investment in their lives.”




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