Laughter slays the audience |

Laughter slays the audience

Kimberly Nicoletti

BRECKENRIDGE – “Suspicious people go to the Cafe Noir,” director Craig Sodaro said. This week, Breckenridge Mountain Lodge transforms into Cafe Noir, giving mystery buffs a chance to brush up their sleuthing skills and solve the mystery of who killed the cafe owner.

The mystery, set in the 1940s, is a take-off on old Humphrey Bogart movies.

Rich Archer, an American private investigator who prides himself on having seen every Bogart movie, finds himself in a cafe full of suspects.

“He sees himself in that (Bogart) light,” said Ben Eichner, who plays Archer. “Most of the time, he ends up stumbling around the situation, and everybody else, in their obnoxiousness, makes him look good. He’s more straight-laced than the colorful characters that surround him.”

Visually, the play’s setting is as black-and-white as possible, with characters displaying color only in their outrageous personalities. The play takes place in a Caribbean bar, though the actors don’t use a distinct stage. Instead, everything happens around and within the audience, so the fourth wall is dropped and the characters interact with the audience, asking questions and making comments.

“We’re really looking to the audience to get feedback and to participate,” said Gail Westwood, who plays the madam of the cafe. “We’re hoping people join in with the spirit.”

“It’s a very intimate kind of situation for both the actors and the audience, and that makes it fun,” Sodaro said.

Each member of the audience receives sleuth sheets to take notes and determine the murderer. Investigators who follow clues correctly win prizes.

“The information is all there if you’re watching closely enough to find it,” Eichner said.

As if comedy, audience participation and a great mystery weren’t enough, the actors break into song here and there.

“The songs add another dimension,” Sodaro said. “In that sense, it’s like a cabaret.”

Mystery lovers may purchase tickets for $15 (kid sleuths are $8) by calling the Backstage Theatre at (970) 453-0199. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays through July 27. Special dinner theater shows will be every Tuesday in July at the Breckenridge Cattle and Fish Company. Ticket prices for the dinner theater will be announced.

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