Magenta Theater to present murder mystery dinner show

Audience plays a role in production

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter

Published:

 

Watch a couple episodes of “The Sopranos” or a few Martin Scorsese movies, and it becomes clear that rivaling mob bosses are a hallmark of the gangster genre. One thing these bosses almost always have in common is they’re male.

If you go

• What: “Mama Versus the Mob,” an interactive murder mystery dinner show presented by Magenta Theater.

• When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Nov. 13.

• Where: Rosemary Cafe, 1001 Main St., Vancouver.

• Cost: $25, which includes dinner and the show. Beer, wine, champagne and mimosas can be purchased separately. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

• Information: http://www.magent... or 360-635-4358.

Vancouver writer Gary Corbin decided to present a new twist on this familiar formula by having women vie for control of the Chicago organized crime scene in his interactive murder mystery dinner show, “Mama Versus the Mob.”

Magenta Theater will present Corbin’s work Saturday and the following week at Rosemary Cafe in downtown Vancouver. Tickets to the show include a multicourse Italian dinner prepared by Rosemary Cafe owner Cheryl Cameron and her staff, as well as live music. Hadas Cassorla, who plays crooner Lola Falanova in the show, will sing Gershwin tunes accompanied by Steve Goodwin on piano.

Corbin’s show is set in Prohibition-era Chicago, and centers on dueling bosses “Smart” Alex Caponi (based on real-life gangster Al Capone) and George “Bugsy” Moroni (inspired by Bugs Moran and played here by Goodwin), as well as the women in their lives. Especially central is “Mama” Mia Mangia, Caponi’s half-sister who is secretly dating Moroni. Together she and Caponi run a restaurant and nightclub, and Mangia begins clamoring for more power.

The other women in the show, having recently achieved the right to vote and currently enjoying the freedom of the flapper era, also start to hunger for control of the mob. When a main character dies, everyone — women and men — jockeys for position.

Corbin said the show is really a comedic battle of the sexes.

Though Corbin has acted in murder mystery shows in the past, this is the first he has written. It’s also a first for Magenta. The theater group has done staged readings before at Rosemary Cafe, but never a full show with a themed dinner menu. Magenta plans to do another murder mystery dinner show at Rosemary in August 2011.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Cameron, who has put together a special “Mama Versus the Mob” menu featuring Parmesan bread sticks, Caesar salad, three-cheese ziti with sausage or vegetarian marinara sauce and a dessert of biscotti accompanied by limoncello- and blueberry-topped ice cream.

The show is capped at 40 guests, so it will be an intimate, participatory experience, said director Bonnie Littleton, who lives outside Camas. Patrons will mingle and dine with the characters and be part of the action. At the end, audience members will decide not only who the murderer is but also who should take control of the Chicago mob scene.

“The audience will really feel like they’re part of it,” Littleton said.

Among the characters the audience will get to know is Mangia, the show’s titular Mama, played by Vancouver resident and Magenta regular Andrea K. Adams. She is one of eight performers from the greater Vancouver-Portland area featured in the program.

The show is scripted, but parts are improvised because of the audience participation factor. Several performers have experience with improvisation through Magenta or ComedySportz Portland, but it’s new to Adams.

“You just really have to know your character inside and out, you have to have a backstory, and you can’t waver,” she said.

Co-star Martin Slagle, who plays Caponi, has participated in Magenta Improv Theater for about a year, but this will be his first time doing a scripted play-improvisation hybrid.

“It’s something new and different, which I’m always excited about,” said Slagle, a Vancouver resident.

Slagle is most looking forward to seeing how the audience interacts with Caponi, the boss of Chicago’s South Side.

“The audience interaction is going to be fantastic,” he said.