For MRO Summer Fare
What’s better than a four-course meal?
How about adding a savory mix of comedy and mystery?
It’s all part of the experience when people attend a Dinner Detective event -- part dinner and part theater.
The show portion is an enjoyable exercise for both actors and diners, with the former embedded among paying customers -- who could become suspects themselves as a murder mystery unfolds between food servings.
According to . . .
Carey noted there are (about 55) Dinner Detective franchises spread around the U.S. Although he lives in Chicago, his own franchise performs in Covington, Kentucky -- just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.
Opening night was Sept. 26, 2015 and since that time, things have gone well. “In Cincinnati, it’s been received phenomenally well -- better than I had even hoped,” he said.
Although he typically puts in a “a full 40 hours per week when you consider all the hats,” Carey credits talent around the Cincinnati area for much of the success.
There is a framework script for each mystery, but beyond that, improv rules the night as embedded actors interact with paying customers. Improv skills, then, are essential, and that is just how Carey likes it.
“I always had kind of a desire to be on stage,” he recalled.
“I went to kind of an artsy high school (in Texas) … and I started to get into actual productions.”
Carey continued his passion at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he double-majored in marine biology and theater. It was during his time at the school that he joined an improv comedy troupe. “By the time i graduated, we were drawing over 300 people to the monthly shows.”
Post graduation, Carey eventually made his way to what he considers a mecca of improv -- Chicago. “It’s probably the best city in the world for improvisational comedy.” he said. “I made the trip up here, and I’m still performing to this day.”
Of course, taking on the Cincinnati Dinner Detective franchise has put him in a position to spend much of his time in administrative roles. Among those roles is finding talent.
“It’s a comedic show that relies heavily on the improvisational skills of the actors,” he noted. “”I’d say up to 50 percent of the show is improvised -- just based on what the audience gives them.” Using area talent enhances shows with local humor and flavor.
Fortunately, Carey observed, “Cincinnati has a great improv scene that has continued to grow. (There are) a lot of funny people, so I was pretty fortunate.”
The project started with auditions of about 60 people on the first day, and Carey maintains a “rotating” cast of about 30 people. Nine or so are on hand for each show, with some handling administrative/logistical duties. Because the “show must go on,” he even keeps a list of “on-call” actors to fill in should the need suddenly arise.
Asked if he has he ever been “surprised” by somebody at auditions, Carey said, “Yes,” noting examples where people of unassuming appearance suddenly came across quite differently when slipping into a character.
That, of course, is spicy stuff for a show where customers could be sitting at a table with a suspect in that night’s murder. We’ve “got all types in the cast. They are very good at blending in,” Carey said.
There are several basic “scripts” from which to choose, and the cast meets for a rehearsal a couple hours before the actual show. It’s a framework, of course, since much can happen during an interactive show.
“I’d say up to 50 percent of the show is improvised, based on what the audience gives them “Carey said. “An improv comic has to be able to react in real time to the situation at hand. It’s tough to do. … The two detectives carry the brunt of the show. They kind of drive the show, and it is important to have a good host.”
As for the audience, Carey noted the ensemble does quite a few shows for private businesses on weekdays. The weekends are usually a diverse bunch coming together for a few hours of mystery, comedy and food.
For Carey, it is following his passion. “I found something I truly enjoy,” he said.
The same might be said by those attending. While the Cincinnati Dinner Detective price is $59.95, Carey believes solid attendance reflects solid value. “If you’re going to dinner and the movies, that is practically $50 right there. Add another $10 and you’re going to see a live comedy show with a more unique experience.”
Link 1 - https://www.facebook.com/thedinnerdetectivecincinnati/
Link 2 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ns0pQuBq4k