"Murder and All That Jazz," or "The Heir of the Dog," written by Rita Wadsworth, an original founder of Mountain Community Theater, now living in Soquel, and Carolyn Hyatt of Santa Cruz, is intriguing, entertaining, and hysterically replete with "D" alliteration, mispronunciations, and wordy witticisms all aimed at making the audience laugh while confusing the details surrounding the dastardly unexpected demise of—oops— that would be telling.
To find out whodunit, you must attend this event and help solve the mystery along with convivial fellow sleuths gathered around dinner tables.
Fabulous, funny, fiscally conservative prizes await all at the winning table that correctly identifies the murderous culprits.
Speaking of dinner, The Trout Farm Inn already has a fine reputation for food, drink and friendliness, but this was reserved seating for a sold-out show of 60 patrons, including cast. And it was all done in a timely fashion starting at 5:30 p.m. with the murder mystery commencing at 7 p.m.
The bartender cooks and service staff were well up to serving a variety of entrees including prime rib, pasta, steak, salmon, chicken, fresh trout, and a vegetarian dish. A crisp mixed-greens salad and dessert completed the menu. The no-host bar included assorted beers, wines, mixed drinks and a specialty cocktail from the 1930s.
The mystery revolves around the estate sale of the late Jay Fitzgerald, a "…wealthy member of the fast-living Jazz Age" who, for reasons to be discovered, changes his will at the last moment leaving all to his faithful puppy, Dumpling, with Ms. Dolly Belli (Elizabeth Hammack) serving as Dumpling's guardian.
Infidelity, greed, ambition, jealousy, lies, all give motive to the entire cast including Daisy and Dick Darling (Linda Gunther, Nat Robinson), Dr. Diego Lama (Jaye Wolfe), Duddy Dixon (Rita Wadsworth), Dumpling Fitzgerald (herself), Zelda Mae Scott (Ali MacBird), and Stuart Serman as the Caterer.
All performers were professional and engaging, especially during the audience interviews when they circulated throughout the tables to respond to questions, though one could not tell if they were being truthful. All part of the fun.
Serman directed the show which played throughout the restaurant, at various times from the bar, the back of the restaurant, sidelines, and the front, where Richard Stauff sang and played piano including every melodramatic embellishment known to engage emotions and warn the audience that something dire has happened, or is about to happen.
The Duchin Trio, featuring Dink Duchin (Richard Stauff), Dilly Duchin (Claire Hodgin), and Dally Duchin (Lizz Hodgin), performed a full catalog of 1920s and 30s songs including, "Me and My Shadow," "Button up Your Overcoat," "Side by Side," with aplomb, dancing, mugging, and encouragement for the audience to join in the familiar songs. This was a talented, show stopping interval while tables were cleared and dessert was served.
Pat and Tag Taggert of Ben Lomond regularly attend MCT events and seemed to have a wonderful time trying to solve the mystery. This was Pat's Valentine treat for husband Tag.
Darrie Young of Santa Cruz has been involved with MCT for 8 years. She said,
"It's just a fun group of people who put in endless hours."
There are only one remaining performance: Sunday March 9. Dinner seating at 5:30 p.m. $45 includes dinner, show and tip. For reservations call 335-4317 or go to www.brownpapertickets.com/event 558114.
- Jacqueline Linford is a freelance writer who recently settled into San Lorenzo Valley. Please e-mail any human interest stories, hobbies and other story ideas to email@example.com.