Mystery Cafe
When Mrs K and I were invited by a friend to attend “Peggy Sue Got Murdered” at Mystery Café last Saturday, I really did not know what to expect. I had certainly heard of the “dinner and a show and a mystery” venue, but I had never even been to the Milano Inn. We were both quite surprised when we arrived and found a bustling restaurant full of diners. We reported to the reservation desk and were sent up a circular stairway to the second floor where the Cafe’s activities take place.

Soon after we were seated, and our drink order was taken, the actress who was portraying Peggy Sue, Tina Nehrling, could be seen setting the stage for the 1950’s era that we were about to enter and gently recruiting patrons who wanted to have a part in the play. I say “gently” because when she arrived at our table and asked who would be interested in having a role, it was all done without chiding or any attempt to win over one’s inclusion. In other words, when Mrs K said she wasn’t interested in doing a role, Peggy Sue graciously took that as a no and moved on. Naturally, ham that I am, I asked for a role and got the part of Mack the Knife, one of the many characters attending the sock hop at our high school setting. I would “appear” in Act 2. After all the parts were handed out, the show began.

The story focused on how Peggy Sue is so popular and how her best friend, Betty Lou, is identical to her in every way (except, of course, her popularity). Along with Peggy Sue, we meet Mr. Edsel – the Boys’ Counselor, played by Joe Strange – who is chaperoning the dance. These two actors played out their energetic performances, along with several audience members standing to do their various roles. The story turns when Peggy Sue goes to find Betty Lou and returns bloodied and mortally wounded. End of Act 1 – and it’s time for soup. Trays full of bowls appear and we are all served a delicious minestrone.

And that’s how it goes – with an act of the show, then a course of the meal. Act 2 is followed by a salad – all you want – act 3 is followed by the entrée (you have a choice of four dishes) and a generous bowl of spumoni ice cream. All the food was well-prepared and professionally served by the Cafe’s very attentive wait-staff.

Other characters appear, all played by Ms. Nehrling and Mr. Strange, all the parts that were handed out are performed with good humor by the very adept audience members, and at the end, those who wish to can write down their guess of “whodunit” on a worksheet, which is then handed in. After the show is over – one winner is given a prize for their correct guess. A best actor prize is also awarded – a can of ham – and so, being the biggest ham in attendance, I managed to win it.

I must say, Mrs. K and I had a wonderful time. The atmosphere was friendly, totally relaxed and non-judgmental. Everyone enjoyed the audience participation aspect, and the two actors kept the proceedings going with their high energy performances. Granted – the story is not Shakespeare, nor is it meant to be. There was a nice little twist to the plot, the characters were entertainingly portrayed, and a lot of good laughter and applause filled the room of about 70 participants.

I am glad Mrs K and I had the opportunity to spend a very nice evening with those 70 people. We came away well fed, well entertained and with a lot to talk about on the way home. We thoroughly enjoyed the fun experience!

Mystery Café performances take place every Friday and Saturday evening at The Milano Inn, 321 S. College Ave. in Indianapolis. They asked us to arrive at 6:45 pm and the show started right around 7:30 pm. You can make reservations by calling the Box Office at (317) 684-0668. You can find more details about Mystery Café by going online at http://www.themysterycafeindy.com/

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