From C. Auguste Dupin to Nancy Drew, there are few things more satisfying that a classic “whodunnit” mystery.
How about stepping into the detective’s shoes and cracking the case open yourself? Here are some local upcoming opportunities for Santa Clarita to get their inner “Sherlock Holmes” on.
Murder Mystery Dinner Theater at Le Chène
For best results, add food and wine.
Le Chène French Cuisine has hosted murder mystery dinner theater events for the past 25 years, initially using them as a way to draw crowds and fill up the restaurant’s banquet room. After 15 years, Juan Alonso, founder of Le Chène, put the monthly dinner theater productions on hiatus because he felt they were too saturated and not drawing in enough people, but he decided to revive them because he still enjoyed the spectacle.
“When people suggested to me that I host a dinner theater, I said yes because I felt it filled a need for entertainment for the people of Santa Clarita and it was a good business decision,” Alonso said.
About once a quarter, the actors from Sharpo! Entertainment Productions stage an interactive dinner theater at the restaurant, while Le Chene supplies hors d’oeuvres, wine and dinner. Up to 80 participants are seated at tables of 10 and are treated to an interactive show where they can ask the actors questions and try to figure out who the murderer is.
Alonso said that what makes his murder theater events unique is the quality of his food and the adult oriented atmosphere.
“We’re generous with the food and with the wine and though we’re right around the corner in Santa Clarita we’re a destination restaurant,” Alonso said. “My favorite part of hosting these murder mysteries is seeing people smile. I just want them to have fun, have a good dinner and forget about their problems from the week. People love a good mystery and even better, they like to solve a mystery with dinner.”
Le Chene French Cuisine will host their New Year’s murder mystery dinner theater on Dec. 31 from 7-10 p.m. at 12625 Sierra Highway, Santa Clarita. Tickets are $150 in advance and non refundable including the dinner and show. Visit lechene.com/event/new-years-eve-2020-murder-mystery-dinner-theater-at-le-chene/ for more details.
CluedUpp Games’ Santa Clarita Detective Day
Fans of Netflix’s “Peaky Blinders” will get a chance to walk the gangster-ridden streets of 1920s England without even leaving town.
CluedUpp Games is a United Kingdom based company, will host an outdoor, family- and pet-friendly detective game on January 18, A 2020 called “Sneaky Finders,” loosely based around “Peaky Blinders.”
According to Adrienne Titley, social media and PR coordinator for CluedUpp, the company creates location based detective games.
“Our Sneaky Finders games is a cross between ‘Pokemon Go’ and the ‘Clue’ board game,” said Titley said. “Players have to visit different landmarks in a city and, using our app, they’ll find a witness statement with a clue that they’ll have to solve to eliminate suspects, down to one person and one murder weapon. Everyone loves these hard gangster TV shows and films and when ‘Peaky Blinders’ blew up at home in the UK, we felt like we’d be missing out massively if we didn’t do something based around it.””
All of the games mechanics and materials have been pre-recorded and are available through the company’s app, which allows players the freedom to play at their own pace, though the game takes on average three hours and there are prizes for the team that completes the game the fastest. There are also competitions for best team photo, best dressed team, best dressed canine, best team name and best child detective and the winners will receive medals.
“In this digital age, everyone is glued to their phones, but this kind of game allows you to be out and about while still using your phone. As attached as people are to their technology, they’re still conscious about keeping their brains and bodies active, so our game puts all that together.” Titley said. “Murder is a bit morbid but people have such a fascination with it and they love to be right, so playing games like this and solving them gives people a huge sense of accomplishment.”
CluedUpp’s “Sneaky Finders” detective day game will take place on January 18, 2020. Tickets cost $46 per team, and each team can have up to 6 adults with children under 16 able to play for free. For more information, visit cluedupp.com/products/santa-clarita-detective-day.
Fillmore & Western Murder Mystery Train Rides
Since the golden age of Hollywood, murder, mysteries and trains have had a tight relationship, and P. Maxwell Productions is keeping that tradition alive with the help of the FIllmore & Western Railway.
Actor Paula Maxwell, owner of P. Maywell Productions, began doing murder mystery theater productions 24 years ago as a way to do long-form improv shows, rather than the short-form skits that she was used to. She heard a rumor that the railway was looking for shows to entertain their guests, and one of the ideas that Maxwell pitched was a murder mystery show.
What Maxwell believes set her murder -mystery shows apart are their emphasis on music, the quality of their improvisation and inclusion of the guests in the story and, of course, that the show is on a train.
“Music helps make memories and I wanted to make this a memorable experience, so I thought that if I have characters come out and start to sing, then people can instantly connect with them. Our show is performance and entertainment driven, rather than clue driven, and we incorporate what the audience says into our show,” Maxwell said. “The train is part of the personality of the show and it helps it make the show memorable because many people have never been on the show. There is a certain nostalgia attached to trains and trains are romantic, so the show begins for the guests from the moment they set foot on the train.”
Maxwell and the railway offer muder mystery shows about twice a month with themes including the circus, the Rat Pack, 1930s Hollywood and a Western. Each show runs about three hours, and guests have a meal during the show while the train travels from Fillmore to Santa Paula and back. Guests are spread across three cars, with each car having their own separate performance, which keeps things interesting for both actors and guests because each car audience has a different personality.
“It’s important for us to keep the audience as part of the show and not just treat them as marionettes for the detective playing puppet master,” Maxwell said. “I have on my business cards that we are ‘Southern California’s premiere murder mystery troupe and with our longevity and how people continue to come back and see us, I challenge anyone to take us to task on that.”
For a list of available shows visit fwry.com/murdermysterytrains.html. Lunch shows are ages 7 and up and cost $40 for children and $72 for adults. Dinner trains are ages 18+ and cost $90.