Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sugar High

The first time Chagrin Valley Little Theatre opened their season with the Murder By The Falls event 20 years ago, a fake body was dumped into the Chagrin River as a prop. Held this year Sept. 6 and 7, the annual audience-participation benefit brings less shock and more sweetness with Cereal Killer, a satire featuring our morning mascots as mobsters and gamblers entangled in a sticky murder mystery. Set in the mostly fictional Horseshoe Casino, high-rollers Count Chocula, and Boo and Franken Berry meet their demise on the betting floor, leaving Inspector Gotcha to solve the serial ... uh, cereal killings. Director Greta Rothman gives us three reasons why Clevelanders should check out this sugar-coma-inducing thriller.

Star Struck: Jan Jones, known for appearing on The Morning Exchange, is a Murder By The Falls mainstay appearing this year as seedy gambler, Mini Wheats. After seeing YouTube videos of past years' shows, NewsChannel5 news anchor Leon Bibb auditioned for the part of crime novelist Grayson Bran. Bibb is already comfortable in front of a camera, says Rothman, "but now he's on a stage, looking up to the actors as the professionals. It's the flip side of what we're used to."

Local Limelight: Don't just watch the ridiculous cereal-themed characters flounder for clues,  but become a private eye yourself. Audiences members group into squads of deputies to solve the crunchy slayings. Businesses join in the fun, so you could find yourself canvassing downtown Chagrin Falls for gooey evidence. Officials such as Chagrin Falls Mayor Thomas Brick also pop in for cameo appearances. "Incorporating different levels of experience is the true essence of community theater," says Rothman.

Full Plate: For the price of a ticket ($60, $30 of that is tax deductible), theatergoers get to nosh on hors d'oeuvres, a dessert buffet and can partake in a cash bar. You may walk away with a door prize, and if you're a sleuth on one of the best teams, you could win tickets to more CVLT shows. "It's a good night out," Rothman says. "After a few drinks, people are ready to have fun and laugh at bad puns."


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