Columbus is now a whitewater rafting destination. So it only makes sense that whitewater has its own mystery dinner theater.
Sherlocks Mystery Dinner Theater will open Sherlocks Whitewater Mystery! tonight at its longtime home in the downtown Columbus Marriott hotel.
We wanted to try one where we could capture maybe some of the people that are coming here for whitewater or just kind of capture the overall feeling that people have here that we are a whitewater town, said JJ Musgrove, the theaters managing director.
Musgrove and his wife, Kate, a retired Columbus State University professor, write and produce all of the shows for Sherlocks Mystery Dinner Theater. The husband-and-wife team plan to show the Whitewater Mystery until July 5 a rare summertime showing for Sherlock, which usually only performs in the early spring and fall.
And, of course, the couple wants audience participation.
This show, at the end of Act One, we actually teach them how to whitewater raft, JJ Musgrove said. And so everybody at the table has a whitewater rafting paddle and we teach them how to stroke.
But dont worry, the paddle is very small.
Musgrove said that if the whitewater show is successful, it will return every year as a seasonal staple.
If we do it, thats great, well do three, he said. Well never do four again.
In the beginning, the Musgroves did four shows, but the workload and ticket sales didnt justify it.
Details about the show
Though plot details are scarce, it helps to imagine the show as a revolving door.
The cast includes 14 characters, including dueling nature enthusiasts, intrepid reporters and a drill sergeant. The story is stuffed with Columbus references such as Whitewater Express (here called Whitewater Adventurers) and the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Stars Blake Copeland and Samantha May play three characters each a surfer dude; a sexpot; a photographer changing identities at the end of each act.
Theyre both very comfortable trying to find the joke through honesty, Musgrove said. Theyre looking for the punchline but its got to be real.
The pairs biggest roles are as detective Jack Hammer and the platinum blonde E.Z, who, in past productions, has played some variation of Hammers assistant, girlfriend or fiancée.
Now, shes the wife.
Shes hilarious without even trying to be and thats what I like about her. Because shes so sweet and nice, May said. Kind of dumb. Kind of smart. Shes this very complex yet simple person.
Copeland plays Hammer as a combination of Dean Martin and Leslie Nielsen (the exact ratio may change by the night).
Both actors knew each other as students at CSU, where Copeland is still a senior.
It was a mutual exchange of, Youre awesome, Copeland said of their first meeting for Sherlock.
Perhaps the nights most important participants are the guests, who will play the majority of the roles.
Really the success of the entire show is the audience, Musgrove said.
IF YOU GO
7 p.m., every Friday and Saturday night from May 23-July 5.
Downtown Historic Columbus Marriott Hotel
$48.50 (includes three-course meal)
Reservations are required: 706-604-5634 or www.sherlockscolumbus.com