When it comes to weddings on the screen or the stage, it’s almost never as simple as, “I do.” From bridezillas to bombastic bachelor parties, there’s not a shortage of drama leading up to the big day. The drama just usually ends, or at the very least peters out, once the wedding bells finally ring.
That couldn’t be further from the case at the Art Centre Theatre (ACT) in Plano. In fact, the “case” at hand during the wedding reception dinner is perhaps the most dramatic possible: murder.
“Till Death Do Us Part” is a mystery, dark comedy and interactive dinner theatre all bundled into the same bouquet opening at the aptly acronymic ACT on February 10.
“The staff tries to do a murder mystery every year as a dinner theatre production,” ACT Executive Director and “Till Death Do Us Part” Director Jamey Jamison said. “Everyone seems to have a blast doing it and seeing it.”
This year’s wedding themed iteration clearly draws story inspiration from some of the popular wedding programs on stations like TLC with the ACT’s website promising, “reality TV drama the likes of which Andy Cohen dreams of.” When it comes to the colorful cast of characters populating that plot however, more hands-on experience comes into play.
“Well, as a public service group, we have met, served and had these characters as clients, so the story actually writes itself,” Jamison said. “All we really have to do is pluck an amalgamation of the “Karens” and “Kens” we dealt with over the course of a year and put them in a room together on paper and they pretty much take over.”
According to Jamison, some of the major players in this mystery include “a narcissistic husband, pill-popping mother-in-law and a bridal party that is a hot mess.”
“I think we all know these people,” Jamison said of the eclectic cast. The question then naturally shifts from who each character is to which of them may be capable of murder?
The show’s detective attempts to sort out that sordid question before the dessert course ends, with the potential help of the audience who can win a prize if they correctly guess the killer.
It’s all part of the interactive side of the experience, which also comes with an actual dinner depending on your ticket. Basically, think something along the lines of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding with a murderous twist.
Jamison said that the cast typically likes to follow a template for the night’s proceedings so that each year’s murder mystery keeps a familiar tempo for returning patrons, even if the results are unpredictable. In fact, the show goes as far changing who the culprit is each night of the show, keeping it thoroughly unpredictable even between a year’s run of performances.
“We change who did it each night,” Jamison said. “There are four different endings, so if you see it one night; the next night it will not be the same thing.”
Jamison explained that the show drops ample hints as to who the killer may be each night, but the outlandish cast makes it easy to suspect a number of potential culprits.
“There are subtle hints everywhere,” Jamison said of the show’s mystery.
While you’re busy channeling your best Benoit Blanc, the show’s also working to make you laugh too though. The eccentric nature of the cast doesn’t just make for a quality whodunit; Jamison explained that the characters are also very much meant to be over-the-top, caricaturized punchlines in of themselves.
“Think Benny Hill meets Clue or Kids in the Hall meets The Orient Express,” Jamison said of the show’s tone.
If this unique pairing of comedy and mystery sounds like a match made in Heaven to you, then all it takes is saying a simple “I do” to either $35 dinner admission or $18 general admission for an invitation to the off-kilter reception. “Till Death Do Us Part” runs from February 10-25 with more information available at https://www.artcentretheatre.com/.
This interview was conducted via email and has been edited for clarity.