JJ and Kate Musgrove, the husband-and-wife team who founded Sherlock’s Mystery Dinner Theatre usually write, direct and produce their own shows. Sometimes they also perform in the shows.
But for “Therapy Can Be Murder,” they invited regular actor Haley Rice to help write the murder mystery. Kate Musgrove and Rice are colleagues at Columbus State University’s department of theater.
“I pestered them unmercifully,” Rice said.
The Musgroves relented and Rice wrote the show with the Musgroves’ input. The story is about a self-help guru, Tony Dobbins (think Tony Robbins) who returns to his hometown of Columbus to conduct his very lucrative workshop, “Unleashing the Hero Within You.” The two actors, Rice and Adam Archer, play various heroes and audience members play their sidekicks. Most come from comic books or popular culture. There’s Han Solo and Chewbacca, Sheriff Andy Taylor and Barney Fife and Peter Pan and Tinkerbell.
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As usual, as the audience members file into the Marriott Hotel, they will be asked if they’d like a role.
Naturally, Dobbins is murdered and the audience has to figure out whodunit. JJ Musgrove promises the death is creative.
“We’re always trying to find new ways to kill (characters),” he said.
This show also features a puppet. Kate Musgrove, who is a trained puppeteer, taught Archer the finer points of the art.
“I’ve been practicing on my own,” Archer said. “I have to keep the puppet ‘alive.’ ”
The Musgroves are delighted that the mystery dinners have become successful. They credit Fort Benning and its various graduations for much of the success. Relatives of soldiers want entertainment after the ceremonies. And they’ve discovered Sherlock’s. For locals, JJ Musgrove said the word-of-mouth reputation has been strong.
Besides the plays, what keeps locals coming back is the “tasty food” provided by the chefs of the Marriott. “Therapy Can Be Murder” is the seventh play of this theater company. While presenting these productions is “labor intensive,” Kate Musgrove said they are still having fun. She especially enjoys the element of surprise that the audience brings. “You never know what the audience will do.”