Mystery theater returns to ice festival

Published 4:40 pm Sunday, December 26, 2010

The whodunit of the season returns to the Hunter Ice Festival this year.

The Four Flags Players will once again present a special performance of mystery dinner theater at the Bell Building, on the corner of Third and Sycamore Street Friday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.

“We sold out in a week last year,” director Cathy Heide said of the theater’s first show at last year’s festival. “And we had a lot of really positive feedback. People seemed to really enjoy it.”

This year, the audience will become part of the performance of “The Swansong” for the very first time anywhere.

The play was written by award winning playwright and Chicago native Jessica Puller. Puller penned the story specifically for the Hunter Ice Festival.

“This is the first time it will be performed,” Heide said.

The cast has been practicing since earlier this month with four or five practices each week, memorizing an act at a time.

“Most of the cast this year are veterans from mystery dinner theater,” Heide said.

The story is set around a gala fundraiser, Heide explained, for a new ballet company. Audience members are welcome to dress the part, she added, wearing themed outfits or they can get a warm reprieve from the cold weather bundled up in Hunter Ice Festival gear.

“It’s loads of fun,” Heide said. “Basically it’s like a play although there is a ton of audience participation and a meal involved.”

A total of seven cast members and five crew are responsible for the play’s production and Heide said several other members of the community are involved as well. During the live performance, something unexpected will take place, Heide said, “and it’s up to the audience to figure out what it was and whodunit.”

Last year, the performance was held in an outdoor tent during the festival.

“It was warm in the tent but the acoustics were less than ideal,” she said. “So this year we’re taking it up a notch and actually bringing (the audience) into a warm building.”

A total of 119 seats were still available as of Thursday afternoon.

“We’re hoping they’ll go quickly and we’re just really anxious for everyone to come and enjoy themselves like they did last year.”

The dinner will be served buffet style and coordinated between several local businesses who will provide food for the event.

Though beer and liquor was served during last year’s dinner, the absence of a liquor license will change things, Heide said, but plenty of specialty flavored coffees are expected and there will be “quite a few different dishes” to choose from.

Tickets are $30 per person. For reservations, contact Heide at (269) 695-1100. For more information on the Four Flags Players, visit