Orange Coast Magazine by Lisa Berghouse

It's A Mystery

Murder takes place every Friday and Saturday night in the original Gourmet Detective production of "Darling,You Slay Me." Transformed into a 1928 restaurant where the cast acts out a murder mystery while also serving a three-course meal.

The restaurant takes the identity of Lardi's, a take-off of the famous Sardi's in New York City, where anyone who was anyone came to see and to be seen. "Darling, You Slay Me" is an interactive play about the opening night party of the dreadful, three-blocks-off-Broadway musical "He Rang the Bell." As the cast serves the food in character, members of the audience may ask questions to help unravel the mystery. Guests are encouraged to interact with the actors to learn more clues as to "who dunnit?"

Written by Alyssa Canann and Tom Shelton, the story combines many 1920s stereotypes into a fun story about a flapper who is murdered. To a background of period music, the character everyone loves to hate hops around in a flapper dress singing ditties - that is, until she dies and every other character becomes a suspect with a motive.

Countless references to old film and theater stars are made. The cast members pick out unsuspecting audience members and call them by such legendary names as Laurence Olivier or one of the three Barrymores. It is pure comedy and chaos.

Production manager and casting director Dave Casper trains the troupe to stay in character while doing simple tasks like pouring water and handing out rolls. The interaction works well. Many of the actors Casper picks for the show have received training at LA Improv or other improvisational companies.

The Gourmet Detective is a 10-year-old dinner theater company. Once called The Mystery Cafe, the company changed its name a few years ago to better market the dinner element of the show.

The Gourmet Detective features "Darling,You Slay Me" every Friday and Saturday night. For reservations call 866-992-5424, or go to www.gourmetdetective.com.