If I have been asked once, I have been asked hundreds of times, when is the park going to do another dinner theatre?
Well, after a long three year hiatus that felt more like 30 years, the mystery dinner theatre, one of the most popular events ever introduced at Wilderness Road State Park, is coming back this March!
Cast shot from the park's original dinner theatre production in 2011
This time around, we tapped into the rich history this park has to offer, and came up with a script based on the Ely family who are responsible for building what we now call the Karlan Mansion. You see, in 1877, Robert Ely began construction of a large two-story brick home for his wife, Susan, and their daughters. In 1878, the home was completed and became known as Elydale, or the Ely Mansion.
The essence of the loyal commitment Robert had for his family is evident when studying the history of this old home. Why they even made the brick by hand using the clay found on the farm. It was truly a labor of love.
Based on that very foundation, WHISPERS – Secrets of the Ely Mansion was born. A good friend of mine, Carolyn Hughes, wrote and directed our first dinner theatre, which was successful beyond our imagination. I soaked in as much information from her as I could, and leaning on my experience from the first play, I took pen to paper to come up with this original script that offers a unique perspective to Elydale.
Detective Gumshoe overhears a clue that helps him solve the mystery from 2012 show.
The story unfolds as colorful characters lead the audience through three acts of fun, confusion and discovery. The meal will consist of a salad, beef stew, bread and strawberry shortcake. The action will take place all around the audience, who should be prepared to get involved and interact with the cast. By the third act, dinner guests will be invited to try to solve the mystery.
The list characters include: a special guest of honor, farmhands, maids and a chef. The cast is made up of park staff, along with volunteers from the community. The cast includes: Donna Long as Susannah Constance Greystone; Mike Brindle as Michael Gideon Redmond; Crystal Kirk as Ada Blanche Whitehurst; Michael Bonaventura as James Victor Blackwood; Bonnie Banks as Eliza Mae Greenberg; Matthew Bonaventura as Matthew Rufus Browning; Shawn Williams as Shawn Jacob Maroon; and Scott Bowen as Chef Scotland Jacques Goldman.
These characters try to help Susan Ely pick up the pieces of her shattered life, following Robert’s sudden death at the young age of just 24.
Tickets for the March 20, 21, 27 and 28, 2015 presentations are on sale now at $15 each and advanced tickets are required. Seating is limited, so early reservations are encouraged. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and curtain time is 7 p.m. sharp.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, please call the Wilderness Road State Park office at 276-445-3065.