If the thought of a scrumptious dinner and a thrilling murder makes you want to donate to a great cause, then the upcoming Twin Cities Rotary Club event is for you. Taking place on Friday, March 3 at 6:00 p.m. at the Historic Hotel Washington in Chehalis, their annual Murder Mystery Dinner is a fundraiser to benefit Business Week and their Centralia College scholarship fund.
The Rotary hopes to raise between $2,500 and $5,000 for the event, which is one of two main fundraisers they host annually. The other is their Beerfest in the fall. The proceeds from the murder mystery will go toward the Twin Cities Rotary Club scholarship, which has been in existence since 1991.
“The club has supported scholarships at the college and also a couple of Capital Campaigns totaling nearly $60,000 over the years,” says Jakob McGhie, an attorney at Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP and a member of the Rotary. “The scholarship is available to any student with an affiliation to Rotary or being part of the college’s Bachelor program.” Jakob is the chair of the committee organizing this year’s Murder Mystery Dinner.
Funds will also help sponsor Business Week, a business simulation seminar for high school students, by covering costs of putting on the annual program.
Past murder mystery themes have included “Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball Murder,” “There’s a New Sherriff in Town,” and “Murder At The Pageant.” Each year the stories are completely original works written by someone local.
This year’s event is sponsored by the Old School Gun School and the play was written and is being directed by J.B and Glenda Herren, the owners of the Gun School. “After attending the Murder Mystery last year with my wife, I heard about an opportunity to be involved in this year’s event,” J.B. says. “I stepped up and offered to help.”
This was not his first time being involved in the arts, however. He and his wife have been involved in community theaters in other communities for many years. During that time, they wrote and produced dinner theater murder mysteries as a way for aspiring actors to practice in a fun way.
“We have lost count over the years of the number of actors and productions,” he adds. “Theater can be very personal and very social. People come together and find new commonalities with unexpected others, and new friendships are formed.”
The Herrens are adapting and writing the script as well as directing the play. Their script, “Murder at The Winery,” is the chilling tale of a winery owner who has been missing for five years – all leads have gone cold. But, at the annual Wine Festival held at his mansion, an earthquake breaks apart the wood floor to reveal the “perfectly preserved remains” of the missing winery owner. It’s up to an FBI agent who happens to be attending the festival to question the suspects and unearth the truth about who killed him.
During the course of the dinner, eight actors will play out the tale. When they are not on stage, they mingle with the attendees. Other than trying to figure out who the murderer is before he or she is revealed, guests are not expected to do anything more than sit back and watch the play while eating a dinner provided by Once Upon a Thyme.
The Historic Hotel Washington’s Grand Room makes an elegant backdrop for the play and surely creates an atmosphere to up the ante on the night. The play mentions ancient wood floor boards breaking to reveal the body – and here you will be walking on original 1889 wood floors, surrounded by brick walls. White-lighted birch branches surround the 6,000 square foot Grand Room. Not much imagination is needed to believe you are indeed in a wealthy winery owner’s mansion.
Since the murder mystery is set at a winery, attendees are encouraged to dress up. “The setting is a fancy wine festival set in a beautiful Tuscan country side,” Jakob adds. “Hopefully that will inspire some creative costumes.” There are prizes for best costume as well as a grand prize picked from those who guessed the murderer correctly during the course of the evening.
The mystery is approximately three hours long. Tickets are $50 per person and are limited to 100. Tickets can be purchased from any Twin Cities Rotary member, in person at The Book ‘N’ Brush in Chehalis, or Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP in Centralia. Tickets can also be purchased online.