‘Murder is in the Air’ is a fun night of dinner theater

Irv Hansen, Teresa Geboy, Cheryl Grace and Clayton Pennylegion rehearse their play, Murder is in the Air, set to open at Oak Crest Mansion Inn on July 21.
Irv Hansen, Teresa Geboy, Cheryl Grace and Clayton Pennylegion rehearse their play, Murder is in the Air, set to open at Oak Crest Mansion Inn on July 21. Special to the Sun Herald

Pass Christian’s Oak Crest Mansion Inn is an ideal venue for an interactive comedy mystery play.

In this case, that comedy mystery play is “Murder is in the Air” performed by the Bay St. Louis Little Theater cast, one of whom hails from Ocean Springs.

Audience members who hail from all parts of the Coast and beyond, however, are invited to attend and play a significant role in the production as well by picking the murderer after they choose dessert.

On Friday and Saturday, and again on Aug. 11 and 12, the Bay St. Louis troupe will offer “Murder is in the Air,” and the audience will be asked to solve the mystery.

Cocktail hour on those dates starts at 5:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. while diner is served by Oak Crest staff.

Tickets are $45 and include the play a meal. Cocktails are available for an extra fee. The actors, portraying a group of passengers on a 1928 flight in an airship named Colossus from London to New Jersey (shades of the Hindenberg), begin dropping like flies (with no blood to spoil the appetite). The audience will not miss anything, as the action takes place around the tables throughout the elegant dining room, just as it would during the flight of any luxury airship.

At the play’s conclusion, between the entrees and dessert, the audience is asked to name the murderer, and the viewers who get it right are duly praised.

There is much to appreciate about this production even apart from the clever staging and audience interaction. For starters (nothing against any Gulf Coast playhouse), there is no better setting for a glamorous show than the magnificent white-columned 1920s Colonial Revival-style Oak Crest Mansion Inn at 5267 Menge Ave., Pass Chrisitan.

Apart from salad, sides and dessert, entrees will include a choice of Blackened Chicken or Broiled Flounder in delectable sauces, or a Vegetarian option for the meatless diner.

Secondly, the performances by this veteran cast should outdo even that of the most accomplished chef. Director Jimmy Duggan also plays Rosco Malone, an uneducated Brooklyn stevedore, to comic perfection. Artistic director and actor par excellence Cheryl Grace portrays Zelda Montgomery, a wealthy ’20s flapper who sashays through the dining room, buried deep in her role as only she can manage, flirting with audience members as she goes.

Irv Hansen is the cool Dash Hunter, the American sleuth charged with solving the murders, while Christina Richardson brings a 1920s career woman to life with her usual skill. Between them, Terry Cullen (Montgomery), Clayton PennyLegion (Barrington), Barry Newman (beautifully playing four different characters) and Bob Smith (Fingers) bring decades of experience to their finely crafted performances, the only shame being that some of them are murdered early on in the show.

Theatergoers will greatly enjoy the work of Ocean Springs actor Teresa Geboy as CiCi, a priceless diamond in even this sparkling array of thespian talent, who manages to steal every scene she’s in with her Argentinean accent and vivacious turn as a lover of séances and stiff airborne drinks.

Finally, the period costumes set the ideal tone for this piece, as the jokes, double entendres and smarmy lines rendered by this veteran Bay St. Louis cast will keep the audience deeply involved in the mystery. The only questions being which savory entrée to choose and, of course, whodunit.

Murder is in the Air

What: ‘Murder is in the Air’ is an interactive, three-act comedy mystery dinner written by Julia McDowell, Michael J. McKay and Mignonne Profant and is presented by the Bay St. Louis Little Theater Players

Where: Oak Crest Mansion Inn, 5267 Menge Ave., Pass Christian

When: Friday and Saturday (Sold out) Aug. 11, 12 ; cocktail hour 5:30 p.m. (there are additional charges for cocktails); performance and dinner 7 p.m.

Director: Jimmy Duggan

Cast: Teresa Geboy, Cheryl Grace, Jimmy Duggan, Irv Hansen, Terry Cullen, Christina Richardson, Barry Newman, Clayton Pennylegion, Bob Smith

Tickets: $45 includes show and dinner, and cocktail hour (there are additional charges for cocktails); Special rates for Suites available for the evening

Contact: 228-452-5677