Museum host live dinner theater fundraiser

Dixie LaGrande introduces the cast after this year's Murder Mystery producation at the Sacramento Valley Museum.

Everyone had a reason to dislike Rosemary, which made determining her suspected killer all the more difficult for the 85 spectators gathered at the Sacramento Valley Museum’s annual Murder Mystery Dinner on Saturday night. 

Rosemary – played by Beth Nall – was not the most likable character. An obnoxious hypochondriac who claimed to be allergic to water, Rosemary was apparently snuffed out on a trip to the bathroom while celebrating her own birthday at “Cafe Murder” with her four sisters. The apparent cause of death? According to eccentric detective Reginald Harris – played by Kent Boes – she was done in with a few splashes of cold water.

As the audience learned by the end of the show, Rosemary was actually just fine, and – not surprisingly – wasn’t actually allergic to water, but not before the waiter at Cafe Murder confessed to splashing her with water in the bathroom with nefarious intent. A majority of the crowd correctly guessed the (unsuccessful) perpetrator – played by Dan Slauson – though others had suspicions about two of Rosemary’s sisters, including Valerie (a ditzy Valley girl played by Valerie Strain) and Volleny (a rugged truck-driver played by Aaron Baikie-Rick).

An audience favorite was the maître d’ of Cafe Murder – played by Melissa Baikie-Rick – who donned a beard and wig for her role. She also spoke with an accent, though it wasn’t exactly clear what kind of accent she was going for – something she herself called attention to.

“Am I French? Am I Italian? I don’t know,” Baikie-Rick said at one point during the performance, laughing along with the audience. 

According to organizers, this year’s Murder Mystery Dinner – the biggest yearly fundraiser for the Sacramento Valley Museum – was a success. 

“I think it went really well,” said James Pearson, museum curator. “All of the board members noticed that there were a lot of new faces in the audience… More people showed up than we had tickets for.”

Both Pearson and Sacramento Valley Museum board member Sajit Singh said that the script for this year’s dinner – “Cafe Murder,” written by Nathan Hartswick – made for a more engaging experience for event-goers.

“Last year’s play was just a bit different,” Pearson said. “This year, we tried to make it a bit more polished and a whole lot simpler. I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback.”

“We were able to sit down and find a 20-25 minute play, and it was one where people could learn their lines,” Singh added. “What I felt was really important was that we used the acoustics of the building, and the actors projected their voices in that auditorium as it was meant to be – that people put away their cellphones and were engaged in the act… I really feel that it was more intimate, and we still had a big crowd. I felt that everything was more connected, and I think that had a lot to do with James and the cast, as well as the board.”■

Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.