SANDY — I have never been to a murder mystery, which is pretty much the reason I volunteered to see this show. Theater, food, and murder, too?!? I was excited.
Before I headed off to Through the Window Glass, I did a quick UTBA search for previous Hunt Murder Mysteries, just to get an idea of what to expect. I scanned/read a review by Craig Mustoe and found the following items: (1) The sound system had problems, (2) The actors were enthusiastic, and (3) Good times were had by all. My experience turned out to be quite similar.
In the upstairs banquet room of Spaghetti Mama’s, we became dinner guests of Dolly Dallas (played be Heidi Potter), a charming woman whose wealthy husband, Tex, is mysteriously absent from the festivities. But her sister and brother-in-law, the Dahls, are in attendance, along with Tex’s business associate, Sean. There are a maid and a window washer attending, as well. Plot-wise, nothing much happens; it’s a dinner party. But I’ve decided that audiences are quite forgiving when they have food in front in of them. The same show, in a traditional theater setting, would not have worked.
There are a lot of great things about what Hunt Murder Mysteries presents each weekend. The content of the show is enjoyable and compact. The songs, jokes, and over the top characters leave no room for boredom and the evening flies by with two “intermissions,” one to allow the audience to eat dinner, and another to question the characters. It would be a great date activity because of the laughter and the interaction that naturally ensues between table-mates. My husband and I sat at a table with four strangers, who we would normally politely ignore, but at Hunt, somehow we fell into conversation. The actors would visit each table and make awkward and hilarious comments; we couldn’t help but laugh and empathize with one another.
Sadly, the microphones did have issues. And the music levels often drowned out the singers; I could barely hear Elise (Nancy Candrian) sing, “I Can’t Say No.” Cringing for the cast and crew, I crossed my fingers that it would all work out. But there were sound problems throughout the show, and since Craig’s review posted months ago, I worry that this is a persistent issue with Hunt productions. Please fix this problem, Hunt MM, and you will improve the show so much.
It was fun to hear familiar songs, like “Hello Dolly,” “Love and Marriage,” and “New York New York.” I enjoyed, too, that Lee Hunt had incorporated original lyrics into some of the songs. I kept feeling like I was missing things, though, when a mic was giving feedback or an actor wasn’t enunciating clearly. The speed of the show may also have been a factor. I wanted to catch every bit of the humor.
Dolly’s bubbly personality was so likeable, as it was written to be, I’m sure. I didn’t want her to get hurt or disappointed, which I thought she might (based on the promotional image of Dolly looking through a window at a dead body.) My other favorites were Rain Jeppson’s singing voice as she played the role of Barbie Dahl, and the window washer’s (Justic Jex) hilarious surfer accent (“Dude” and “Totally” were heard many times.) The French maid’s accent (Nancy Candrian) was one thorn in my side, though, especially when she sang her solo and lost it altogether. If an actor is going to use an accent, I expect it to be consistent and to add to, rather than detract from, the character.
One more thought: Is it morbid of me that I wanted to see the dead body?
When we were asked to name the murderer, I had to absolutely guess; I consider myself intelligent, but I really didn’t pick up the clues I was supposed to. Maybe the key plot points could be even clearer, for those murder mystery rookies like me. The cop that I sat next to was very involved in the mystery and in tracking down the perpetrator. (She got it right, by the way.)
If you are looking for a nice, dark seat in a large anonymous audience—Hunt Murder Mysteries are not for you. I was, honestly, caught off guard by the actors, fully in character, greeting me with gusto. And when we were all encouraged to interrogate these same confident thespians, I was thoroughly intimidated. It’s just a fact that this type of venue isn’t for everyone, but I loved it, despite my shyness, and will definitely be attending again.