IF YOU GO
■ What: "Murder at the TonyLou Awards" dinner theater.
■ When: 5:30 p.m. CDT Mondays-Wednesdays, March 10-12 and 17-19.
■ Where: Fortes on the Square Restaurant, 27 E. Fourth St., Crossville, Tenn.
■ Admission: $28.
■ Phone: 931-484-5000.
Volunteers from the Cumberland County Playhouse are presenting the funny, audience-interactive "Murder at the TonyLou Awards" for six performances starting Monday, March 10. The title is a play on the authors' names: Tony Schwartz and Marylou Ambrose.
The murder-mystery performances are being held in Crossville, Tenn., restaurant Fortes on the Square on Monday through Wednesday two consecutive weeks. The $28 ticket includes a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m., buffet dinner at 6:30 followed by the play. Proceeds go to the playhouse.
The show begins at the door as each arriving guest is interviewed by celebrity gossip columnist Constance Gabbles. During cocktail hour, guests mingle with the actors, who will drop clues about their characters and answer questions from the visitors.
According to a news release, the show includes four favorite Playhouse actors -- Jason Ross, Daniel Black, Chaz Sanders and Michael Ruff -- starring alongside volunteers. Others in the cast are Jean Saal, Dee Potocnik, Judy Murphy, Terri Ritter, Caitlin Schaub, Emily Hinds, Skip Ritter, Nick Steadman, Michael Turner and Deanne Etchison.
After host T.J. Hardcastle sings the TonyLou theme song, the awards show is officially underway -- but not without interruptions from several characters. Lorna Lush, a has-been stage diva, is toting more booze than the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales. Celia B. DeMilo has a weakness for young men, and her newest boy-toy Claude-Jean will do anything to become a star. M.J. Hardcastle carries a grudge against her brother and his wife, Angelina Canoli, who "wins" an award every year. And could it be that adorable Funky Brewster has a nasty secret lurking beneath her innocent exterior?
Before the night is done, the audience learns everyone has a secret. After someone is ruthlessly murdered, it's up to the audience to figure out whodunit. The first to guess correctly who the murderer is and his/her motive will receive a prize.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...