BWW Review: Board The Mystery Train for THE ART OF MURDER

BWW Review:  Board The Mystery Train for THE ART OF MURDER

The train whistle blows signaling the opening night of The Art of Murder presented by The Mystery Train, Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre. Wendy Thompson directs Philip blue owl Hooser's play, set on a train headed for Kansas City in 1975. Hooser has written The Legend of the Spooky Switchman, Mighty Muddy Murder, and Baldknobbers and Backstabbers all produced by The Mystery Train.

The Mystery Train recently changed venues for performances due to the closing of the Golden Ox Restaurant in Kanas City. Locations for The Art of Murder are the Bonefish Grill at 6334 N. Lucerne Avenue and The Tiffany Ballroom at 903 Harrison, both in Kansas City. The Tiffany Ballroom is located in the Masonic Lodge and across from the Arts Asylum. The Tiffany Ballroom offers lighted-fenced parking on the south side of the building. Do not let the appearance of the area discourage you, I have been to the area several times now and have never had a problem.

Though the name of the production company is The Mystery Train, the shows take place inside restaurants and not actually while riding the rails. On your arrival the Conductor, played by Zack Chaykin will escort you to your seat where a member of the cast greets you. The actors never break character until after the show has ended. Once the conductor blows the train whistle, the mystery begins, with members of the audience filling some of the character roles.

The Art of Murder centers on the death of Thomas Hart Benton, as some members of the cast are heading to Kansas City for the funeral, while others hope to earn a few dollars off his name. The Art of Murder is a splendid romp with characters and plot that keep the audience laughing between courses of the dinner. The rules are simple, do not look at the clues ahead of time, use the fake money to buy evidence or ask questions, try to guess who did it and why, and the number one rule have a great time. It is difficult to solve the murder, but the great time comes easy all evening long.

Emali Price is fabulous as Barbi Ware, an art history major who has been a student at many colleges, yet never gotten a degree. Price brings her character to life with her comedic timing, facial expressions, and body language. She appeared last at The Mystery Train in Drawn to Murder.

Cassandra Whitney returns to The Mystery Train and the role of Y, an art student with an attitude. She does a wonderful job in the role, you are not sure whether you should like Y or not, but I say Y not. Whitney has a Bachelor's Degree in Studio Art: Graphic Design and Theatre Performance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She currently teaches at the Metropolitan Community College and has her own small business.

Claudia Copping is superb in the dual role of Art Tipton and Eugenia Joplin. Art Tipton is an artist agent, models agent, well just about an agent for anyone that can make him money. He hopes to make a great deal of money off the Thomas Hart Benton prints he says he owns. Eugenia Joplin is the ex-wife of Tipton who tries to solve the inevitable murder. Copping last appeared with The Mystery Train in Murder at the Royal.

Zack Chaykin plays the Conductor and shoulders the responsibility of keeping the play rolling and the audience cast members queued when some will (to the enjoyment of the audience) forget to say their lines. Members of the audience play Winifred Stevens a wealthy benefactor of the arts, Julia Porter a want-to-be model, Larry Stevens the husband of Winifred, and Howard Watt a passenger on the train.

For an enjoyable evening and wonderful meal head on down to the tracks and board The Mystery Train. The Art of Murder continues through March 28. Purchase tickets and view menus at The Mystery Train website. Photo courtesy of The Mystery Train.

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From This Author Steve Wilson

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