I recently attended the final dress rehearsal of “Café Murder,” a delightful whodunit that caps a stellar 68th season for Sherman Community Players. For years, SCP, the third oldest community theater in Texas, has enlivened the latter stages of summer with its delightful dinner theater benefits. This year’s offering of “Café Murder” stands tall in a rich tradition of summer entertainment coupled with a seated dinner.
As a prelude to Act I, patrons are entertained by the remarkable voices of Carolin Kellam, Amanda Pillow, Pamela Sanza and Heidi Schiebmier as they offer popular hit solos that are alternately peppy, bluesy, soothing and robust, with a touch of country thrown in. In cozy, cabaret style, each of these lovely singers appear alone at a stand-up microphone. They are joined by the superb trio of Tim Jenkins at the piano, Frank Steele on drums, and Music Director Fred Freeman on stand-up bass. Together, they serve notice that entertainment is on the menu, as patrons enjoy their salads and light conversation.
As Act I begins, we are greeted by five extremely different sisters played by Jessica Adams, Lisa Avila, Nancy Cassady, Lisa Martin and Jennifer Becherer, all seated together at Café Murder. With their zany interactions leading to high comedy, dysfunction on steroids could serve as a suitable title for their family album.
Act I also introduces the cafe’s maître d’, waiter, and chef played by Mawell Norris, Ben Fuhr, and Matt Maxwell, respectively. Accents, attitudes, and an exaggerated sense of station add lavishly to the comedy. All ingredients combined, blended with the able direction of Mainstage Artistic Director Anthony Nelson, produce a lively Act I.
During the first intermission, patrons enjoy the main course of their dinner and another round of richly entertaining solos. The meal is catered by Feast on This, a gourmet catering concern that has catered SCP’s summer benefits for years, providing delicious fare from salad to dessert.
Act II greets the audience with news that a corpse has appeared, and the hunt for the killer ensues. Detective Harris, played by Scott Horsely, is introduced, and a seemingly innocent evening with five eclectic sisters transitions to a hilarious whodunit. Audience members are brought into the act as they are encouraged to question the actors onstage from their tables, and the exchanges are rich.
With the end of Act II, a second intermission arrives with no solution to the mystery. Delicious dessert also arrives topped with more musical rhapsody, while patrons speculate on who the killer might be.
In Act III all things become known, with an added surprise or two, to cap the hilarity and intrigue of Cafe’ Murder. The audience departs having been well feted with delicious dining, great theater, and winning music.
Patrons can buy tickets for the 6:30 p.m. Aug. 4, 5, 11, and 12 performances or 12:30 p.m. Aug. 6 and 13 performances. Ticket prices are $45. For reservations call 903-893-7652.