What’s that, you say? Murder at the Manor Tavern? Beginning in July, and every other month thereafter, Whodunnit for Hire, LLC, will be providing the entertainment in the form of murder mystery dinner theatre. Book your tables now for the first installment, which will take place July 18, at an all-inclusive rate of $50 per person. Will you be the guest who solves the mystery, or the guest who committed the crime?
Whodunnit for Hire provides murder mystery dinner theatre throughout the greater Baltimore metropolitan region, including sites in West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Whodunnit’s scripts include regularly featured themes such as “The Great Clue Mystery,” based on the board game, and “Murder on the Vine,” which uses a wine tasting as its starting point. The Manor Tavern engagements will use “Murder on the Vine” throughout 2012 and “The Great Clue Mystery” in 2013.
In addition, Whodunnit for Hire produces scripts for specifically requested themes, such as for events hosted by local businesses. As described by Wendy Olenik, founder and manager, “We craft a mystery around the company’s event. Our most popular themes are ‘A Killer in the Company,’ ‘Team Building Gone Awry’ and ‘Let’s Kill the Boss’.”
The Whodunnit group also performs mystery games for birthday parties, rehearsal dinners and smaller parties. As with all of their events, guests play the suspects, one of them is the murderer, and they all interrogate one another in an attempt to solve the mystery. Themes for these made to order mysteries have included James Bond, Harry Potter, zombies, pirates, and most recently, Mad Men.
Whodunnit for Hire, a Sykesville company, was created in 2007 by Olenik, who still leads the enterprise. After performing regularly from early childhood into her college years, Olenik fell in love with the format because of the way in which it incorporated the audience, rather than relying on the fourth wall created in typical stage performances. As she puts it, “it was the most challenging and fulfilling acting I had ever done and I’ve been loving it ever since.” Olenik goes on to say that part of what she loves about the format is that it occurs “in the moment” and as such must take into account whatever happens - planned or unplanned. As she puts it, “if something happens during our mystery we make it part of the show. There is no way we’d ever ignore a light crashing into the room.”
Today, Whodunnit for Hire employs upwards of twenty actors and actresses, including Ben Fisler, of the Harford Community College Department of Theatre and Performing Arts, as well as Tanya Davis, Bill DeBrason, and David Evolve, all local actors working in film and commercials. Others work in more traditional jobs by day, and put on their acting caps at night. One member of the troupe, Leonard Gilbert, was enjoying a dinner with his family at the Manor Tavern when his work with Whodunnit for Hire came to mind. He met with the new owner, Bill Irvin, and the collaboration took shape.
In addition to several dates now planned at the Manor Tavern, Whodunnit for Hire performs regularly at Baldwin’s Station Restaurant in Sykesville, as well as The Herr Tavern and Publick House in Gettysburg, PA.