Weekend Getaway: Dinner and a Murder

Jenny and I will celebrate our tenth anniversary on January 4. We’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World next month with the boys, but we also wanted to do something for just the two of us. So I bought tickets to a murder mystery dinner theater in Addison at the Hotel Intercontinental and booked a room there for the night.

Hotel

After dropping the boys off with my parents (thanks again!), we drove to Addison and checked in. We both love staying in hotels and trying new ones, so we generally pick a new, upscale hotel in the area each year around our anniversary. The murder mystery led us to the hotel, and I splurged on a loft suite. I’ve wanted to try a two-level suite for years, but they are rare and usually quite expensive. This one was right at our hotel and somewhat reasonable.

The hotel was beautiful and seemed nearly empty this weekend. The checkin guy kindly switched us to a different suite that overlooked the city rather than the parking garage. In honor of the holidays, the staff had decorated several Christmas trees and hung lights everywhere, giving the hotel a lovely glow. Our room was beautiful as well, classy rather than gaudy, with large flat-screens downstairs in the living room and upstairs in the bedroom. Each floor provided its own bathroom. This would be a great room for anyone who wanted to entertain guests. You could keep the party downstairs while maintaining some privacy upstairs. The bathrooms sported granite and brushed nickel plus a garden tub in the master bath. Both levels included large windows with a great view.

Frivolous? Perhaps. But we loved it. Here are some pictures of the hotel and room.

Murder Mystery Dinner Theater

Around 7:30, we went downstairs, took some pictures, and checked in for our murder mystery dinner. I performed in a murder mystery dinner theater during college at a tiny church, but the show was a traditional play. This show was interactive, like the one Jenny did during high school. Our event included five tables and 20-30 people, several of whom were actors who were actually part of the show, although you didn’t know until later whether or not a given person was a guest or a plant. Jenny correctly spotted at least one from the beginning, but a few others whom we thought were actors were actually just guests. Our host told us from the start to talk to – no, “interrogate” – as many people as possible over hors d’oeurves, salad, main course, and dessert. So we never knew for sure whether to trust the people we were talking to, which makes for an odd but fun dinner party. I won’t give away the plot, but it involved searching the room for evidence, listening and reading carefully as the homicide investigator presented new information and talked to various guests (or are they actors??), and trying to figure out what’s really going on.

At one point, the investigator singled me out as a person of interest, saying that my “background check” had turned up seven counts of indecent exposure (!), charges for which I might be getting blackmailed. I took offense to these accusations, as any exposure I’ve had was perfectly decent! Oh well. He did bring me up to the front briefly for questioning, and after that other guests kept coming by asking for handwriting samples. Since I was already in the hot seat, I tried to act a bit suspicious to mess with people.

The food and service were good, particularly the main course of chicken breast with mashed potatoes and asparagus, although it would have been nice to have a few choices rather than a fixed menu. They smoothly scheduled the food delivery during periods that we were up and around gathering clues and talking to people. The homicide investigator did a great job, deftly blending the script with impromptu guest interactions and bits of humor. (ask Jenny about Mama’s biscuits!) Obviously, this company has been performing these shows for some time and ironed out the wrinkles.

The whole event lasted about three hours, making it a great way to spend an evening trying something unusual. If you’re terrified of interacting with people, this probably isn’t for you, despite the website’s assurances to the contrary. If you hate the idea of getting dragged up to the front and handed a microphone for brief questioning, don’t book the reservation in your name. But if you like mysteries, live theater, and the unusual experience of interacting with strangers who might or might not be whom they seem, a murder mystery dinner theater might be for you. Jenny and I agreed that although it was fun as a couple, going as a group would be even better. One of the tables had a group of seven or eight, and they seemed to have a blast.

One final note…my wife is a genius and almost figured out whodunnit and why by the end. She also cracked a code that appeared among the evidence and deciphered a message from a murderer. However, I was a bit lost and pretty much gave up on figuring it out around halfway through, for two reasons: 1) I am NOT an auditory learner, so it’s hard for me to remember and process information that I hear, particularly names. I’d be a terrible detective. 2) I was a murder mystery noob, so I wasn’t sure exactly where to take my investigation. Was the answer hidden in the physical evidence, held by one of the actors who is waiting for me to ask the right questions, or some combination thereof? When we try another one of these, I’ll have a better feel for how they work and what I should do. That being said, for me they would be even more fun on the other side of the curtain as one of the actors. I wasn’t a fabulous actor back in high school and college, but I did dabble in it and enjoyed the experience. How fun would it be to assume a character and mess with the guests at something like this?

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