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TMCNet:  Dinner show caters to audiences' aim for fame

[January 03, 2013]

Dinner show caters to audiences' aim for fame

Jan 03, 2013 (The Columbus Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Mayhem & Mystery dinner theater will give audiences a chance to dish up large helpings of ham.

Those who crave a moment in the spotlight can participate in the comedy-mystery Deadly Dancing, the troupe's most interactive performance to date, opening Tuesday for two months at the Spaghetti Warehouse.

Set during a dance marathon, the show will offer patrons four opportunities to dance while incorporating seven bit parts for individual volunteers and a "stupid human tricks" scene in which several people can display any unusual talents.

"We like to talk to the audience and draw them into the setting," Artistic Director Tamra Francis said.

"In Deadly Dancing, we'll pull them up to demonstrate a step," she said. "With a dozen chances for individuals, groups or everyone to perform if they choose, this is the most interactive show we've done.

"We know we won't get everyone (to volunteer), but our goal is to get at least some people volunteering from each group." Francis and her husband, manager Jerry Francis, co-wrote the script and appear in the show. As in any Mayhem & Mystery production, three acts alternate with meal courses: the first act after the salad, the second after the entree and the third after dessert.

"A competition is always fun for the audience, and this one is the dance derby of the decade," she said.

Deadly Dancing reflects the popularity and audience-involving format of Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.

"The characterizations," she said, "reflect some of the aspects of a marathon." Tamra Francis plays Lindey, organizer of the marathon, with Jerry Francis as Charles Stun, the host and judge.

Marc Pitman, 49, plays Patrick Sways, with Elena Monigold as his dance partner, Louise Crick.

Sways is a "slimy" professional dancer who owes plenty of money from making bad bets on the dance contest, Pitman said.

"If Patrick doesn't pay off his loan sharks, they're going to break his legs --and that's a bad idea for a dancer," he said.

"The challenge is making him an interesting character and enjoyable for the audience." Patron Trish Halterman, a photographer at Lucky Lola Studios in Hilliard, is eager to return to Mayhem & Mystery with her friends.

"We've had a blast," she said.

"I enjoy group interactions, and I'm a theater person at heart, so seeing the two combined made me happy....You could see that the people picked were having fun." Several women in her group of about a dozen were picked for interaction when they attended in November. But Halterman wasn't, which is one reason she's eager to return, in hopes of greater participation.

"While most dinner-theater productions are relatively serious," she said, "Mayhem & Mystery keeps everyone lighthearted and happy and is way more interactive." mgrossberg@dispatch.com ___ (c)2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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