OC Metro by Chris Trela

Mystery, Magic, Drama

One of the longest-running productions in Orange County has been the mystery dinner theater presented every weekend by The Gourmet Detective. The actual play changes every year or two ("Your Dinner or Your Life" is the current offering), but the dinner theater concept of presenting an interactive mystery play that roams throughout the restaurant as patrons dine and attempt to discover who dunit has been a long- standing hit.

Now, the Gourmet Detective has expanded with a new production, "Mumm's the Word." A better title might be "Fun's the Word," because the show is an enjoyable - and tasty - two hours of mystery and mirth.

"Mumm's the Word" was first produced nearly eight years ago, but has since been re-written and revived. The new "Mumm's the Word" is the perfect play for a glitzy place like the Hilton. The play re-creates the atmosphere of a 1929 speakeasy (here called the Mumm's Club) inside one of the Hilton nightclubs.

The story is set the day after the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, which means that a handful of unsavory characters are wandering the club, as are local floozies, singers and assorted riff-raff. During the course of the evening, one of the characters is murdered. The audience's job: do some amateur sleuthing and attempt to guess who pulled the trigger.

While there are a few dramatic moments, the evening is played for laughs, with a couple of songs thrown in for good measure. The actors are accomplished at the fine art of improv, and interact well with the seated guests and each other.

Of course, when nearly half the cast (and director Patrick Gwaltney) are company members from Stages (one of the best independent theaters in the Southland), you know you're in for a treat.

Guests also have a treat with the Hilton food, which includes a choice of chicken marsala, grilled top sirloin, broiled salmon and pasta. A full bar and cocktail service are available.

For reservations or more information, call The Gourmet Detective at 866-99ALIBI. Tell 'em Mugsy sent ya.