Tickets are going fast for the Golden Chain Theatre’s Feb. 17 - 19 performance of the murder mystery dinner-show Murder at the Cafe Noir.
The play, directed by Jennifer Janine (Piccolotti), is a spoof of the black and white Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum movies of the 1940s.
“Golden Chain Theatre guests can prepare for a raucous, lovely evening with some very shady characters,” Janine said.
Detective Rick Archer (played by Cristien Dunkle) makes his way to the Cafe Noir having been hired to find his client’s runaway daughter, Sheila Wonderly (Bree Stephens). It just so happens that she is employed by the Cafe’s french owner, Madame Toureau (Heather Sconce).
Along with a black market dealer (Robert Britt), a creole illegitimate daughter of a politician and a voodoo priestess (Lydia Mayberry), British barrister (Leonard Brown), the show is sure to keep audience members guessing between bursts of laughter.
From cage to stage
Anthony Ruiz will be making his debut on the Golden Chain Theatre stage in this hilarious whodunnit.
Ruiz, a 6-foot-2, 205 pound heli-tech fireman with Cal Fire, has also been a cage fighter for 13 years with a career win-loss record of 34-23. He will be traveling to Russia for the second time in May for a special exhibition match.
He has been in the GCT audience many times to watch his daughter, Alli, 16, and his son AJ, 9, perform, but Murder at the Cafe Noir marks his debut on the GCT stage. Alli, a Yosemite High School junior, has been performing on the GCT stage since she was 3-years-old. She had the lead role as the heroine in the 2015 melodrama Bertha the beautiful typewriter Girl, played Chava in Fiddler on the Roof, and will be portraying the character of the sweet daughter Beth in the upcoming Little Women production. AJ has been in a number of children’s productions at the GCT.
In Murder at the Cafe Noir Ruiz doesn’t play one character - but three - a thug gun-runner from the Bronx, a blackmailer and a British cop.
“The only thing scarier than stepping in the cage is getting on the Golden Chain stage,” Ruiz said. “I’m doing it because it looks like fun and my daughter loves it ... one more thing to knock off the bucket list.”
Director Jennifer Piccolotti says Ruiz is fun to work with and brings a freshness and excitement to rehearsals.
“Although we already considered Anthony family due to his being a regular for years to watch daughter Alli on stage, Anthony being an actor on stage has forced me to see things through his eyes,” Piccolotti said. “It’s forced me to work on my “you know what I mean... just do it” communication approach that over 15 years of directing has become a bad habit. So new actors might be intimidated by that and not speak up if they have no idea what I’m talking about, but not Anthony ... he’ll just say “wait…what the heck are you trying to say? What do you want me to do?” He’s great and his sense of humor keeps rehearsals fun. As fun as they can be when we are all trying to kill each other.
Audience integral part of the show
“This play provides us the opportunity to do something a little different, with some adult humor,” Piccolotti said. “The audience is an integral part of the show and it really helps keep the actors on their toes.”
The show is rated PG13, intended for an adult audience, and will be performed on Feb 17, 18 and 19. Cocktail hour at 6 p.m. with show at 7.
Piccolotti added that this is the third murder mystery dinner for Valentine’s Day for GCT after two very successful previous productions. She said attendees will have the opportunity to guess “who dunn it,” with a winner each evening chosen from those who guess correctly.
Guests will be served a three course meal by An Event to Remember. Dinner will include: Pulled tri tip and Chicken Lombardy-chicken in garlic butter sauce with mushrooms, green beans with slivered almonds in butter sauce, mashed creamy potatoes, rolls and butter, and for dessert - New York cheesecake. A vegetarian option is available by calling Ken Ryder at 683-7112. Hors d’ourves will be served during the cocktail hour.
Tickets: Tickets are $47 per person and may be purchased online at www.goldenchaintheatre.org or by calling (559) 683-7112. Tickets purchased prior to Valentine’s Day will receive a special email on Valentines Day itself that can be printed out and shared with your sweetheart.