This looks like a fun and interesting show. If anyone gets a chance to go and see it, please let us know all about it!
ROCHESTER, New Hampshire — The annual musical murder mystery dinner extravaganza at The Governor's Inn has begun. Now in it's 16th year, the Inn is rolling out the red carpet for an extravagant production — “The Mystery of the Murder on The Muppet Show!”
Audiences will delight in the familiar music and characters of the Muppet Show as well as Sesame Street. Elmo will be joined by Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Kermit the Frog, Statler and Waldorf, Big Bird and several other over-the -top characters … or, rather — caricatures — turned on their heads so to speak, in the customary bawdy style of Governor's Inn musicals befit for adult audiences.
With many of the February and March shows already sold out, it's widely known what a good time is to be had at The Governor's Inn mysteries. These lavish productions of musical mayhem in Rochester present a full costumed cast of twelve actors who sing and dance, with live music, a big stage, various set locations during a raucous house tour, tap dancing and a five-course dinner to boot. This show is not only delicious and spectacular but chock full of scandal, intrigue, and laughs.
The evening begins at 6:30 as guests are welcomed into the Governor's Inn ballroom and onto the elaborate set of the show by the costumed cast and directed to the hors d'ouerves. Seating is in group tables of 8 to 10 guests set for dinner (now served earlier). The show begins with a grand musical number with all the Muppets (and one cute human). Soon enough a murder takes place … the audience then gets its turn at the fun, beginning with a rollicking house tour of the Inn — five Muppet Show “scenes” with lots of food, drink, and audience participation.
With something for everyone and boredom to none, a Murder Mystery dinner at the Governor's Inn stays lively all evening with plenty of singing, dancing, mystery, audience participation and outrageous fun. Those clever enough to figure out “Who Dunnit” win a prize.
Laura Pomerleau, a fan of theater and musical plays across the seacoast area, has attended the murder mystery at The Governor's Inn for ten years now, every year. “It's the most fun, interactive musical that I've ever seen,” she said. “After 10 years that I've seen, the shows at the Governor's Inn keep getting better … they're getting more dynamic, and they're always different.” Upon seeing this show on its first run, Pomerleau said “these Muppet costumes are the best I've ever seen in an Inn show.” Pomerleau said the plot is quite unexpected, and was surprised how the show holds to the Muppet story yet is transformed into adult entertainment. “This year it's absolutely hilarious, and the story line is ingenious,” she said, “but at the Governor's Inn its never really all about the story … its about the audience having a really fun time.” And that is what keeps her coming back every year.
From The Monster Writer
In addition to staring in many roles including the Cookie Monster in this show, local thespian Todd Fernald has been writing original scripts for the Governor's Inn murder mysteries for several years. A human resources director by day, Fernald enjoys all aspects of theatrical production and has performed all over New England.
“This show was fun to write,” Fernald said, “because it's about the Muppets and they are so much fun, but that is also what made it challenging. Kermit, Elmo, and the others … people know who they are and what they are all about, so we have to stay with their characters, but in this case turn it into a mystery for adults.”
Fernald uses jealousy, betrayal, attraction, forbidden love, and greed — classic formulas for drama — yet finds ways that are believable in a Muppet world. Miss Piggy (played by Jenn Batchelder), is jealous of Kermit, and self-conscious about the way she looks. Fozzie Bear (Sam Bennett) is insecure about being funny or not. Big Bird (Heidi Gagne) and Elmo (Stew Brown) are competing for 'entertainer of the year award.' Shirley Temple (there was always one human in every Muppet episode), who is played by Kelly Connors, is troubled by an event in her past caused by Elmo, as is Camila the Chicken (Danica Carlson). Beaker (Noah Nelson) is typically brewing something in the Muppet lab but is always screwing things up. And Kermit (Anthony Ejarque) trying to raise money to bring back the show, despite being blackmailed by Elmo.
Making full use of the talent pool, Fernald gives every character a big, unique personality as well as their own predicament which makes them a suspect in the murder. “When I wrote this — when I write any show,” he explained, “I give each actor their turn in the spotlight. There is not one character that falls by the wayside.” And shine in the light these Muppets do. “They are spot-on with their characterizations ... they sounds just like the real Muppets … so recognizable … not just with vocalization, but with their mannerisms and little quirks.”
Keeping It Lively
with Song and Music
Kathy Fink has been the music director of the Inn's Murder mysteries since the shows' inception 16 years ago, writing the custom music and playing every show. It's a nice winter gig for her busy season running Prescott Parks' music during the summer. She, along with percussionist Jeff Elwood — provide an amazing full sound of live music that plays to the actors' every move. With her Yamaha Clavanovo, she blends in string, organ, and special effect not only for the songs but in between and all throughout the show.
Fink's music keep the momentum and carries itself, but the focus at the Inn's shows is always on the singing. With custom lyrics by Stew Brown, the songs in the Muppet mystery are numbers that everyone knows and loves. but with a special twist. “It's famous hits like you never heard them before … amusingly different … but still, you'll be signing along and tapping your toes!”
From the Fuzzy
In addition to wearing a fuzzy green suit with tights and a tail in the form of Kermit the Frog, Innkeeper Anthony Ejarque directs the show as well. This is also his 16th year producing it.
“This is a show you can't see anywhere else,” he points out, referring to the show's raucous, interactive format paired with a remarkable five-scene tour throughout the Inn serving food and drink that creates entirely different scenarios for each and every scene. “It's extremely unique, not only to Rochester but to the entire entertainment world,” says Ejarque. “We constantly improvise our performance and reach out to individuals, to groups that come in together, to VIP's, to birthdays, to all types.”
Over the years, Ejarque's show has drawn crowds that return time and again, audiences that want to be involved, that want to have a good time. Reviews of the shows often speak of 'incredible energy, strong performances, and vaudevillian-pleasure.'
This year's Muppet show is off to a rockin' start. “We have a terrific talent pool for this show, one of the best ever,” says Ejarque, mentioning some exceptional talent that have performed in the Inn's mysteries, such as Chris Tierney, who is currently starring on Broadway in New York City as Spiderman. “Who knows how far some of our actors will go?” Ejarque pointed out.
With most of the initially scheduled weekends already sold out, the Mystery of the Muppet Show has been extended an additional three weekends, through March 23. The $59 tickets include the 5-course dinner, tax, and gratuity.
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