Midsummer Night’s Scream

By John Farrell

The view from the Reef Restaurant across Queensway Bay to downtown Long Beach is fantastic.

The dinner served is elegant and delicious.

But when the curtain is pulled across the view and one of the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Scream is poisoned before your eyes (and carried out quickly: no CSI action here) you realize, if you didn’t know it when you were buying your ticket, that the evening is centered on murder.

Unless you have already absorbed six or seven glasses of wine, of course you know where you are and you know that A Midsummer Night’s Scream is the latest in comic dinner theater presented by Act Out Mystery Theatre. They’re back for their 20th production, leaving audiences with a good dinner and dying, as they say, of laughter. Performances are scheduled for May 31.

A Midsummer’s Night Scream is written and directed by Paul Vander Roest and is much, much more about jokes and satire than it is murder.

Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, familiar from San Pedro’s Little Fish Theatre, is Mona Desmond (yes, that name is familiar) and when she dies in the first act and then reappears as Lady MacDeath, the detective, you know what’s in store. It’s delightful fun and it doesn’t require much deduction in the process. Bill Wolski, also a Little Fish alumnus, is dead serious as Peter Squints the Butler and, when he comes on again as the very bearded Snitch, the Witch, his transformation from icy stare to melting comedy is complete.

Katie Braun plays Sarah Bellum and Mistress Quickstep in succession, with several delightful touches. Vander Roest is Art Major (nobody said the names were hard to understand) and Chef Boyd Hardy, and Laura French is the stage manager in the big sunglasses Marsha Mello. Tim McGraw is the off-stage narrator. Taylor Magee and Randall Goddard are swing performers hidden in the audience.

The play-goers are also spun into the act, reading from cue-sheets with more than a little acting ability themselves. (Were they chosen from acting chums?) They include Will Shakespeare. The denouement was more of a contest and some never quite figured out how the criminal was discovered, but it didn’t really matter. A lot of fun and laughs were had on the way to dessert.

Tickets are $54.95, plus tax, for the show, dinner and wait staff gratuity. A Midsummer’s Night Scream is playing May 31 at 7 p.m. It will be held over for private parties until August 31.

Details: (562) 961-9862; www.ActOutMystery.com

Venue: The Reef Restaurant

Location: 880 S. Harbor Scenic Drive, Long Beach

 

 

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