Film fest brings in mystery dinner |

Film fest brings in mystery dinner

summit daily news

For 30 years, the Breckenridge Festival of Film has been going strong, and part of its success is due to killer fundraisers, like its third annual murder mystery dinner, set for March 27.

This year’s theme takes guests back to the Old West – with a New Orleans’ style twist, complete with a Cajun-style dinner. Local celebrity actors, led by director Chris Daly, will enliven the crowd with whodunit action. This year’s cast includes Robin Theobald as a mountain man who discovers gold on his property and decides to take in a mail-order bride from New Orleans – but what will become of his bidded bride? Cindy Nelson, Dan King, Gail Westwood, Johnna Patton, Justin Schlosberg, Ken Trausch, Lee Zimmerman and Niki Vincze help unfold the curious plot.

“We recruit people that wouldn’t normally play roles like this,” Daly said. “I think it’s enormously entertaining for the community to see these people acting in a way they wouldn’t normally see them – stepping outside their comfort zone … my job is to make sure they have the time of their lives.”

Daly, a former mayor of Manitou Springs, writes the scripts based on local lore. He uses his mysteries for fundraisers and corporate events.

In order to inspire the volunteer “actors,” Daly tells them not to act, but rather, to become cartoon characters of reference models he provides. For example, Faye Dunaway’s performance in “Little Big Man” helps inform the character of Violet Venable, the postmaster, and Rosanna Arquette in “Silverado” offers fuel for Cornelia Comeaux, the mail-order bride. Daly also gives volunteers background about their characters. Theobald’s portrayal of Bear Claw, the mountain man, is a former Army man who built a cabin in the mountains. His references are Brian Keith in “The Mountain Men” and Dustin Hoffman when he becomes a hermit in “Little Big Man.”

Last year, Breckenridge Mayor John Warner got in on the act, calling it “a great interactive event, which is as much fun for the cast as it is for the audience,” he said.

“I had a lot of fun – perhaps too much fun – performing last year,” he said about his stint as a mad German scientist.

After a skit and dessert, diners have 20 minutes to question suspects, then 20 minutes to work in teams to come up with the culprit.

“Not only is this an amazing evening of unique entertainment in Summit County, this is a great collaboration of the arts, bringing together live performance with the film festival, and giving the audience a chance to participate throughout the night,” said Dawna Foxx, executive director of the Breckenridge Festival of Film.

Guests are encouraged to dress in Old West attire – from gunslingers and saloon girls to miners. This year, prizes and raffles will be awarded for costumes, since last year’s guests gussied it up so well.

The 30th Annual Breckenridge Festival of Film takes place June 10-13.

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