Looking for a fun and mysterious way to spend your Halloween evening? Dress up in your best Halloween costume and head to Dayton’s Spaghetti Warehouse to enjoy Mayhem & Mystery’s hilarious and interactive dinner theater show. Guests will enjoy a full meal while getting involved in a spooky yet humorous murder mystery that is sure to entertain family members of all ages.
Mayhem & Mystery is an Ohio-based acting company that was founded about 12 years ago. The actors perform an improv show while guests enjoy a salad, a main course, and dessert. It is a very interactive experience – actors never break character, even while having individual conversations with the audience members. The audience participates in games and contests throughout the show and are asked to solve the murder mystery at the end. Three winners are chosen and each receives a certificate and a prize. Each show is themed for the season and runs for two months, allowing time for six different productions each year. It is now operated by Tamra and Jerry Francis, who have been with the company since it began. Tamra and Jerry write all the scripts themselves while also participating in the shows, and rotate the rest of the cast between four or five actors.
“We’ve never repeated a script,” says Tamra.
I attended the Halloween-themed show entitled “Costume Carousing,” where guests were invited to Morana Toggery’s annual costume party and encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes. We were seated at long tables in a back room, giving a true party-like atmosphere to the experience.
Guests were enjoying their salad when a tall woman dressed entirely in black entered the room and welcomed all of us to her Halloween costume party. Morana Toggery, continued on to introduce herself and inform us about her dark family history and hidden family fortune. We were soon joined by her neighbor, Dolorous Peacock, who wasted no time in showing us her dark and dry sense of humor and love for all things eerie and weird. A loud, obnoxious woman entered the party, belting out country tunes and introducing herself to everyone as Ethel Mae Chatman. The actors bantered back and forth with each other and with the crowd, decorating each table and guest with cobwebs and dust in order to set the Halloween mood. Morana’s husband – a tall, Frankenstein look-alike named Frank – joined the party and provided endless comic relief with his corny jokes and loud, entertaining demeanor.
After introducing themselves to the audience, the actors exited while dinner was served. The cast returned later and wasted no time in making the guests feel right at home – guests were chosen at random to participate in games such as a costume contest, and were constantly interacting with the actors. The dark and witty humor entertained the audience and kept us laughing throughout our meal, while also introducing a mysterious storyline and prepping the audience for what was to come. The actors played off each other and the guests, bouncing back and forth from well-rehearsed lines to on-the-spot jokes and conversations. I do not want to give away the end of the show, but as is custom for Mayhem & Mystery, one of the actors was “murdered” and guests were asked to solve the crime. I was one of the three winners for the night! I received a Comedic Criminology certificate signed by the cast and a free ticket to attend another show later this year.
“It’s a part time fun job and hobby,” says Tamra. “It’s still a production, we still have a script, but it’s a different show every night.” All shows are written to be family friendly, and audience members of all ages are welcome.
The next Costume Carousing Halloween-themed show is on October 31st at 7 p.m., at the Spaghetti Warehouse in downtown Dayton. The cost of a ticket is $25.95 and covers the meal and the show. Mayhem & Mystery perform their shows in Dayton on Monday and Friday nights and perform in Columbus on Tuesdays. They perform these public shows and also at hotels, catering companies, and corporate events.
The holiday show, Forties Yuletide Frolics, will begin on November 7th and run through New Year’s Eve. Tamra says the holiday show is her favorite show of the year, and the cast puts in a little something special for the show on New Year’s Eve. Wednesday night performances at the Dayton Spaghetti Warehouse are added in December, but Tamra warned me that tickets sell out quickly during this time, so hurry and make your reservations while they’re still available!
If you’re interested in booking Mayhem & Mystery for an event, attending a show, or auditioning for the cast, contact Tamra Francis at [email protected] or check out the website at www.mayhemmystery.com.