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Ellijay, GA
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Murder, mystery, laughs at dinner theater show


Audience members will be asked to guess “whodunit,” as well as why a murder was committed during vaction time, at the first dinner theater production staged by the Gilmer Arts community theater group Friday, Feb. 6, and Saturday, Feb. 7. (Contributed photo)
 
by Michael Andrews
andrews@timescourier.com

The community theater group at Gilmer Arts will be urging audience members to discuss motives, agendas and alibis amongst themselves when the ensemble stages its first dinner theater production next weekend.

The Gilmer Arts Players will present “The Case of the Motorcoach Murders” Friday,  Feb. 6, and Saturday, Feb. 7, at the nonprofit art council located in downtown Ellijay at 207 Dalton Street. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show will begin at 6:30 each night.

The play revolves around a murder committed in the midst of a vacation bus trip for seniors.

It’s up to a bumbling private investigator –– whose name gives a wink and nod to both a bygone movie sleuth (Sam Spade) and a warehouse shopping club –– to apprehend the culprit.

“His name is Sam Club, Private Eye.  All the character names –– Sam Club,  Minnie Cooper –– are funny take-offs,” said director Leslie Ellis. 

Audience members will be asked to put their best guesses forward before the comedic romp meets classic murder mystery is through.

“We’re asking people to come, sit back and figure out ‘whodunit,’” said Ellis. “We have prizes for people who  get the most creative. Not in guessing who did it, but why they did it.” 

The six-person cast includes actors and actresses who’ve appeared in other Gilmer Arts productions, as well as some who will be making their stage debuts.

“We have a lot of new people and I’m really thrilled about that,” said Ellis. 

The $30 ticket price includes hors d’oeuvres, drinks and a catered meal.

“(We’ll be serving) salad and a main course of family style pot roast with loaded potatoes and vegetables. Over dessert, everybody will have a chance to talk and try to figure out who did it,” said Ellis.

Following a long spell without a community theater arm at Gilmer Arts, the new acting company has successfully staged two productions under Ellis’ direction thus far. 

Their first time out was  in  January 2014 with the farcical comedy “Contempt of Court.” The comedy-drama “Ghost of a Chance,” presented over a  two-weekend run last October, was the theater group’s biggest show to date.

“That was a pretty big production,” said Ellis. “There was a big set and a lot of special effects. It was really well received and we had a lot of people who wanted to see it again.”

Ellis said she would like to see the players present something new and different each time around.

“(Our) goal is to bring different theatrical experiences to the community,” she added. “I’m thinking about putting on a children’s play next, which has never been done by Gilmer Arts. (It goes back to) doing something different each time for the community they’re not used to seeing.”

Ellis said, as of Monday, both dinner theater shows were close to being sold out.

“We have seating for 75 to 80 and we were within 20 or so seats of both shows being sold out,” she confirmed. “We’ve talked about extending it another weekend, but we don’t know when that would be yet.”
 
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