On stage

So you want to get on stage?

By Jacqui Theobald

Photo: Joshua Lisec as King Rex and Tamra Francis as Madame Mysterioso in Mayhem and Mystery’s “New Orleans”; photo: Peter Wine, MediaMoments

Mayhem and Mystery Interactive
Theatre at the Spaghetti Warehouse

Mayhem in downtown Dayton? Not really, except at the Spaghetti Warehouse. Another season of interactive plays, from artistic director Tamra Francis, is delighting patrons right now with imagined Mayhem.

Guest interaction is part of the mystery. Audience members get to volunteer and improvise while the actors follow a script. There’s no telling what quirky twists may be thrown. The cast has to be quick witted and they are. Diners are invited, really encouraged, to dress for the theme. For the present show, fling those purple, green and gold beads on and add a mask that won’t interfere with dinner.

The evening always follows a pattern, too.  After salad and bread, meet the characters at the end of Act One. When dinner is over and the clatter of plates is stilled, Act Two begins, always ending with a dead body. The audience tries to solve the mystery as dessert sweetens the task. Act Three reveals whodunit.

Right in line with the season is “Mardi Gras,” with splashes of New Orleans’ heightened drama. This is entertainment in a very lighthearted vein. You wouldn’t want too much stress with your dinner. Cost is $25.95 per person, drinks and gratuity not included.

Plays change every four to six weeks. Next is “Past Your Prime Prom,” running March 14 to April 29.

Remaining “Mardi Gras” performances are Monday, Feb. 22 and 29, March 7 at 7 p.m. They also do the same show at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Columbus. For required reservations and information go to mayhemmystery.us.

Dare to Defy – Open Auditions Feb. 26 and 27

Plays are selected, venues secured, and personnel is picked well in advance in professional theatre. Dare to Defy, working to build the company and find its own varied audience in the rich Dayton theatrical scene, has chosen plays for the 2016-2017 season. Actors are paid non-equity contract positions.

Both audience members and the artistic and creative staff were surveyed for suggestions: “What would you like to see?” and “What would you like to perform?” Becki Norgaard, executive director, said there was an interesting congruence between the two sets of responses for the big productions to be done at the Victoria.

The Victoria shows will be Little Shop of Horrors Sept. 2 and 3, 2016. Rehearsals begin Aug. 1, 2016; Children of Eden is Nov. 25 and 26, 2016; Guys and Dolls will run May 19 and 20, 2017.

“For the smaller space in the Mathile Black Box Theatre in the Schuster Center, funkier, less well known scripts have been chosen—edgier, bolder, fresh,” Norgaard says. She and the D2D Board appreciate the curiosity and interest of their 18 to 35 year old demographic, and hope to tantalize others, regardless of conventional perceptions of taste. Dare to Defy is growing.

Go to D2defy.com for audition information, forms and casting call details. Interested actors are asked to bring a picture and a resume, stapled together. 

The Ohio Playwrights Circle – New Scripts’ First Public Reading – March 19 at 7 p.m. at Dayton Theatre Guild

The work and educational activities of the Ohio Playwrights Circle may be one of the best-kept secrets that make Dayton the extraordinary theatre town that it is. If you’ve ever thought of writing a play (isn’t that the secret ambition of many creative people?) this is information you need.

As part of the Human Race Theatre Company’s education program, two levels of Playwriting classes are held periodically, taught by Michael London. He’s one of those gifted teachers who can ask the kind of question that makes students THINK, digging deep to find their own truth and intention without embarrassment or defensiveness.

Writers must complete the first level before advancing. Each class has a limited size, to assure individual attention. Each week, members must write and share their work. Midway through every three-hour class, skilled actors come in and work with each other to do a selected reading from each writer. Hearing their own words aloud for the first time is a profound experience for the students.

Participant Lee Hamilton of Yellow Springs has taken the Level I course twice and is now doing the Level II for the second time. She says, “London’s format of working with writers is unique and very valuable; having to write a new scene weekly is helpful. We have all improved, noticeably.”

Participant Dan Owens retired to Dayton from Seattle to be near family, but soon found this opportunity to work on playwriting. He acknowledges, “I felt nervous and excited at first to hear my work read aloud by the actors, Michael made it feel OK, so useful.”

After each script reading, writers are encouraged to respond to each other with specific edits in an honest and positive way.

Michael London is an experienced playwright and teacher. His philosophy is clear: “We don’t talk about writing, we write. The important thing is storytelling.” For more information, please contact Marilyn Klaben, 937.461.3823 ext. 3132, or visit humanracetheatre.org/adultclasses.php.

Free Workshop Feb. 26 at Festival Playhouse, Public Invited

Musical Theatre Initiative director WSU’s Joe Deer announces the continuation of year-long program Musicals Rock. Jason Robert Brown visits Wright State for a discussion of his prize-winning theater and film scores with Musical Theatre Initiative students.

To register, please contact Amanda.brewer@wright.edu. Brown will present an intimate concert at Victoria Feb. 25, 8 p.m. For tickets, please visit ticketcenterstage.com.


Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at JacquiTheobald@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Jacqui Theobald
Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at JacquiTheobald@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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