On Friday, Jan. 25, it would probably be wise to stay out of Greensboro’s O.Henry Hotel because there will be a dead body in the bar and a killer on the loose.
That’s thanks to a deadly new way the Community Theater of Greensboro is raising money this season – by taking over the hotel for a night and providing a full-scale Whodunit Mystery Dinner Party.
Community Theater Executive Director Jodi Cauthen said the organization has never done anything like this, but the cast, patrons and O.Henry staff are excited about what’s going to take place there next month.
“This is new for us as staff members,” she said.
According to Cauthen, the idea arose from a brainstorming meeting when Community Theater staff were trying to think of new ideas for a fundraiser as well as come up with ways to promote the 2019 slate of shows.
“In March, we are putting on ‘Clue: The Musical,’ which is based on the popular board game,” she said, “and we thought – people watch a lot of detective shows and they might sort of fancy themselves as amateur detectives.”
She said the O.Henry seemed like a great place to hold an event like this.
“We connected with the O.Henry and they loved the idea,” she said. “They really, really wanted to do it.”
According to Cauthen, the theater group had about 100 scripts to pick from provided by a London company and they selected the best one they could find and tweaked it for America. For instance, she said, while characters in England may “ring” someone on the phone, people in America “call.”
According to literature promoting the evening, a nice quiet dinner is planned, but then something dramatic happens: “Unfortunately, this evening, the normal composure of this very distinctive hotel has been disturbed by the discovery of a dead guest in the hotel bar. The hotel staff and regulars are suspects and it’s up to you to solve the crime!”
Some of the suspects are Hotel Manager Buck Stopshere, Barmaid Paula Nother, Fitness Instructor Louise Weight and Used Car Salesman Jimmy Locks. A careful reader might notice that each name has a double entendre.
Tickets include cocktails and a dinner by Green Valley Grill Executive Chef Leigh Hesling and his team. Participants will also get a “clues” kit and the opportunity to explore all areas of the O.Henry Hotel to determine “whodunit.”
The O.Henry and WFDD 88.5 FM are sponsors of the event.
Cauthen said the current Community Theater season, which started last year, has proven to be very popular.
“This is our 69th season and it’s been incredibly successful,” she said, adding that that success was in terms of attendance as well as “artistic-wise.”
The theater group had a very good response for the musical “Newsies” as well as for the “Wizard of Oz,” which the Community Theater put on for the 24th year in a row.
She said in addition to Clue in 2019 they the Community Theater will put on “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which gained new popularity after a 2018 special television presentation starring John Legend.
“What’s old is new again,” she said. “The original came out in 1972.”
The Community Theater, which was founded in 1949, is the oldest arts organization in Guilford County.