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Murder mystery comes to dinner

Although never spoken in the movie "Casablanca," the idea behind "Play it again, Sam," is something the Olympic Theatre Arts group is going to do one better.

The group will perform "Noir Suspicions," a sequel to their popular dinner theater adaptation of "Murder at Café Noir." It is the first sequel the group has done.

"There's a lot of pressure that we have to live up to because of last year's play," Charisa Silliman said, who plays Sheila Wonderly.

The group intentionally placed "Suspicions" approximately one year after "Murder" because chronologically they are the same.

They wouldn't have done a sequel if the group didn't feel there would be an audience.

"I get people recognizing me in Costco," said Roger Presley, who played Anthony Cairo last year.

"They ask if I played that funny

man."

The story follows Nick Archer, played by Richard Davies, who is an ex-private eye and manager of Café Noir. He is framed for murder, and audience members must determine the murderer's identity to prove

Archer's innocence.

"Some people don't like to participate, but writing down whodunit is a way to get everyone involved," director Ric Mun-hall said.

Actors will interact with the audience, twisting and turning to face all theatergoers to ask what they should do next.

"The audience likes to talk back to you," Presley said.

Dinner theater is broken up so that food can be served. The order is Scene One, salad served; Scene Two, dinner;

and Scene Three, dessert.

Voting for whodunit and Scene Four with the murderer revealed ends the performance.

"We have larger-than-life quirky characters," Munhall said.

"It's all hammed up," said Tracy Williams, who plays Claudette Ponte.

This is the fourth dinner theater production by Olympic Theatre Arts and the third collaboration with the Elks.

Because the OTA building is being remodeled, the group has performed at numerous facilities in the area.

"I have to applaud local churches for letting us rehearse," Munhall said.

"It's been really difficult."

He attributes space limitations and large amounts of stage materials as obstacles that prevent the group from having bigger productions.

OTA also has cut the number of productions per year.

"We have some loyal followers, though," Munhall said. "They go wherever we go."

The group is close to finishing the remodeling, with about $200,000 left to raise.



Matthew Nash can be reached at mnash@sequim gazette.com.



"Noir Suspicions"

6 p.m. Feb. 12-15, 19-22

Sequim Elks Lodge

143 Port Williams Road

$35 for ticket and dinner

Call 683-7326 or see

www.olympictheatrearts.org for online purchasing



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