July 10, 2008

Heartland Plans Murder Mystery

By Alicia Spates, Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.

Jul. 10--DECATUR -- Heartland Community Church has not put on a murder mystery dinner for about three years. But now, with their 2-year-old building, the Grand Palace, which boasts a stage, production equipment and a state-of-the-art kitchen, they have an ideal venue to carry out the tasks of a dinner theater.

Heartland will present an interactive murder-mystery dinner theater tonight and Saturday at the Grand Palace, located behind the church.

Kathy Brock, director of the murder mystery dinner, said Heartland's past murder mysteries were done in the church sanctuary.

"We've always had the idea of using the kitchen of the Grand Palace," she said. "It's a great venue for an event like this."

The Grand Palace was created by Heartland in 2006 to serve as a banquet hall and performance venue.

The murder mystery, titled "Suspect Hollywood," takes place at an open casting call for actors and actresses seeking roles in a movie entitled "Peril of the Prodigal Son." With the director making lots of promises to potential cast members and the movie's financiers, how will they react if they are betrayed?

"We will have a few volunteers in the audience to get involved," Brock said. "We'll also have actors and actresses a part of the show." They will play spoofs of celebrities, she said.

Mike Odum plays Arnold Bonecrusher, a takeoff of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"This is an opportunity to see another side to this church -- a humorous side," Odum said. "We have more to offer than a sanctuary and a dynamic pastor."

"It gives us a place to do what we do best, what we enjoy," added Tony Langley, who plays Nicholas Jackson, a parody of Jack Nicholson.

The menu starts with a salad, followed by carved ham, baked chicken breast, fettuccini Alfredo, green beans, carrots, roasted potatoes and rolls. It concludes with dessert.

"The whole evening will be around the theme of Hollywood movies," Brock said. It will include Hollywood trivia and dancing waiters.

Audience members will get the chance to figure out who the murderer is, with prizes given out to the winners.

While no other dinner theaters are scheduled after "Suspect Hollywood," Brock said there are plans to put on a dramatic production that the church has also done in the past.

WHAT: "Suspect Hollywood," a murder mystery dinner theater.

WHEN: 6 to 10 p.m. today and Saturday.

WHERE: Grand Palace, Heartland Community Church, Brush College Road, Decatur.

COST: $20, includes meal.

ON THE WEB: heartlandcc.net.

EXTRA: Friday's show is sold out. A limited number of tickets for Saturday's performance will be available until Saturday morning. Call Kathy Brock at 972-6406 for tickets.

Alicia Spates can be reached at [email protected] or 421-6986.


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