BWW Review: Board the Mystery Train for DRAWN TO MURDER
What happens when a trainload of cartoon characters come to life in route to Kansas City? Throw in the gruesome death on the train and you cannot help but be Drawn to Murder. Drawn to Murder, directed and written by Wendy Thompson is the current hilarious production of The Mystery Train, the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater.
The fun begins when the conductor seats you at your table and you get the opportunity to take an assumed name. I took the name of Bond, James Bond, and sat at a table with Buffy, Ringo Starr, Marilyn Monroe, and Bugsy Malone among others.
The Mystery Train utilizes three different venues for performances the Golden Ox, Californos in Westport and Finnigan's Hall in North Kansas City. Take your Dramamine, as the motion of the train wheels beginning to turn can almost be felt when the conductor blows the whistle in the banquet room of Californos and we begin our journey to Kansas City.
Set in 1923 the train is filled with members of the tunes who are on their way to see the Great W to audition for a part in Newman's Laugh O Grams. The play unfolds between servings of a salad, entrée, and desert. Diners recruited to portray characters, complete with costumes and props, join members of the cast. It is amazing to watch as these patrons not only partake but also in some instances excel in their roles. A woman who spoke her lines with a lisp and stutter magnificently portrayed Petunia on Saturday night. When Elliott Fodd, the names changed to protect the innocent and copyright infringements, you immediately wondered where the rabbit was.
Jules, the Conductor is played by Nikki Susco-Taylor who not only has to perform her own lines but must also keep track of when the patron-actors must speak (this was the source of laughter several times during the evening). She makes her debut with the Mystery Train after moving to Kansas City from Albuquerque, where she performed in mystery dinner theater.
Seth Macchi portrays Mortimer the Mouse and Oswald the Rabbit. Macchi, in a very high voice, is wonderfully funny as the sarcastic, self-righteous mouse, and later as the cynical would be detective rabbit. He has performed in Kansas City with the KC Repertory Theatre and The Living Room Theatre.
Granny, played by Mary Gay Rogers, may remind you of your own grandmother if she carries a birdcage and has superb comedic timing. Rogers does a fantastic job as the slumped shoulder old woman who dotes on her bird in a cage. This is the seventh show for the Mystery Train in which Rogers has appeared.
Emali Price is fantastic in the role of Mineral Oyl or Minnie (no relation to Olive Oyl) as she likes to be called. Do not let her flirtatious remarks fool you; you may be looking into the eyes of a murderess. This is the second appearance of Price on the Mystery Train and she encourages children with the love of the arts at the Coterie Theatre.
Drawn to Murder continues through March 29. Purchase tickets online at The Mystery Train website or call the Central Box Office at 816-235-6222. Photo courtesty of The Mystery Train.