Supporters and Volunteers, Damian and Kathi Gravino, were featured in an article in the Ventura County Star:
An interactive murder mystery dinner theater, Whodunnit Diner, is back in the Conejo Valley, this time at the Palm Garden Hotel in Thousand Oaks.
The performance of "The Silent Movie Murder" will run Sundays through Nov. 11.
The audience is welcomed by actors playing the cast and director of the silent film "Love's Foolish Parade." The actors double as waiters poised to entertain and engage the audience at a moment's notice.
"During the meal, the audience will witness a murder, which they have to try to solve by the end of it," said Kathi Janca Gravino, co-owner of Xcel Productions, producer of the show.
The seven characters include a Gloria Swanson-style leading lady, a demanding German director, a Charlie Chaplin look-alike, a swarthy male lead, a flouncy flapper, a singer and an innocent damsel in distress.
"I thought the performance was a lot of fun and very entertaining," said Jeremy Zeller, who attended opening night. "It was funny and the story really kept me hooked; I was trying to figure out who did it the entire time."
Zeller said he appreciated the Chaplin look-alike character, played by George Lindsey Jr. as a silent film actor who also doesn't speak.
Lindsey, who was part of the original Whodunnit Diner cast 14 years ago, said he loves his character.
"It's a very active role, with lots of physical commotion," he said.
Lindsey, along with producers Damian and Kathi Gravino, first opened the Whodunnit Diner show in Thousand Oaks, Camarillo and Van Nuys.
"We ran it for two years, seeing as popular as it was, then we decided to try it again," Kathi Gravino said.
The Gravinos booked the newly renovated Palm Garden Hotel. The dinner is provided by Brendan's Irish Pub.
Brendan Searls, the owner of Brendan's, will be opening his next location adjacent to the hotel next month.
Searls attended opening night with eight members of his staff and family.
"It was the first time I had been to a murder mystery dinner. It was quite funny," Searls said.
Actor Westen Taylor, of Newbury Park, said he loves working with the crowd, within the crowd.
The cast remains as actors and servers throughout the three-course meal.
"The audience loves breaking the fourth wall," said Dana Killingsworth, of Newbury Park, referring to the interaction of the characters, portraying actors, with the audience. She plays Fanny Fanciful, the flapper who steals the show.
Along with dinner, the night includes a Charleston contest, a chance to win a whodunnit vote and a few catchy performance numbers done just a plate away.
"I think everyone will have a good time," said Rebecca Spagnolia, of Ventura, who plays damsel in distress Clara Simpleton.
"The Silent Movie Murder" will be performed Sundays until Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Palm Garden Hotel, 495 Ventu Park Road.
Tickets are $57 per person, including dinner and show. Visit www.xcelproductions.com
or call 377-1439 for more information.