Sometime between an office encounter with an aspiring actress and scene two, fictional TV station owner Norman Sneer meets an untimely death. Of course, none of it’s real. It’s all staged and part of the fun of a murder mystery dinner theater production set for Sunday, July 19 at 1:30 p.m. at the historic Ritz Theatre in Winter Haven. What’s unique about this production is that several well-known talented locals, most of whom have long histories with the stage, are part of the show.
The title role of Lizzie is played by Whitnie Bell (Ft. Meade). Bell, daughter of Robbie and County Commissioner Melony Bell, has graced the stage many times, including an appearance as part of the cast for Lakeland Community Theater’s 2013 production of Chicago. The rest of the cast includes two former entertainment professionals -- Bartow General Contractor Bob Pfeiffer and Bartow Vice Mayor Trish Pfeiffer; two local attorneys – Ralph Schofield, Jr. (Lakeland) and Allen R. Smith (Winter Haven); Webber University Track and Field Coach Dave Andrews (Babson Park) and Polk County Fire Rescue Chief David Cash (Lake Wales), who will help facilitate the fictional murder investigation. The only actor who is not technically a local is Tara Rodriguez, a stage and dance veteran currently residing in Tennessee. But Rodriguez is a Florida native with 6th generation roots in Polk County through her mother, and show director, Cindy Rodriguez. All actors are volunteers.
The action in this comedic production of “Murder is on the Air,” takes place on the television set of “The Lizzie Show” (based roughly on the “I Love Lucy” sitcom) and offers the audience a chance to watch the plot unfold, tap into their sleuthing skills and potentially solve the murder mystery. All of this is served up with a delicious four-course meal and a healthy portion of laughter!
The interactive murder mystery format gained popularity several years ago and continues to enjoy a loyal following with both long-time devotees and new audiences alike. According to production director, Cindy Rodriguez, “It kind of feels like you’re part of a real-life parlor or board game in a setting where friends, families and even new acquaintances form investigative teams to solve the mystery and have a blast while doing it!” The audience gets engaged by questioning the suspects, who often respond in humorous ways, to help solve the crime. “This show, because it’s based on a hit TV comedy, is particularly funny with lots of subtle and not-so-subtle comedic moments. Get ready to laugh – a lot!” said Rodriguez.
For more information about the production, go to ritzoncentral.com/events.