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Published: Thursday, 12/27/2012

Dinner theater makes audience part of the action

BY JULIE NJAIM
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Dinner theatergoers will dust off their zoot suits and flapper dresses and put on their thinking caps to be part of the crime-solving team Friday when the Murder Mystery Company presents Crime and Pun-ishment at the Historic Commercial Building in Maumee.

"It's kind of a unique evening. It's not like a murder mystery where you go and you just watch the actors; you actually get to be a part of the show," said actor Brent Brozek, in a recent phone interview from Detroit.

The setting is a 1920s mobster's speakeasy and the audience members are the patrons.

Typically one guest per table is asked to be one of the suspects and given a biography of the character, said Brozek, who has played mob boss Lou Zar and Detective Ness. The other theatergoers become part of the table team and are given time throughout the evening to ask questions to solve the murder. Certificates are awarded in various categories including the best dressed, best actor, best actress, and best crime-solving team.

Costumes are not required but strongly encouraged. "It's fun when you see the audience dressed in theme because it helps us get into character more. It helps carry the whole theme," Brozek said.

The national company has several troupes that perform different themed shows throughout the nation for public events, private parties, and corporate functions. It also will perform Murder at the Masquerade Monday at the Commercial building.

"Crime and Pun-ishment" will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday at the Historic Commercial Building, 301 River Rd., Maumee. Tickets are $60.

Murder at the Masquerade" will be performed at 7 p.m. Monday. Tickets are $60. Information: 888-643-2583 or www.grimprov.com.

New Year comedy

If you're ready to ring in the New Year with laughter area comedy clubs are willing to accommodate.

Rocky Laporte will perform two shows Monday at Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase.

His clean comedy act is based on observations and his take on life. Laporte has entertained troops in Iraq on tour with Drew Carey. His appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno earned him a standing ovation.

The former Chicago truck driver and dock worker switched to comedy in 1988. He's opened for Louie Anderson, Garry Shandling, The Righteous Brothers, Tim Allen, and Hootie and the Blowfish.

Rocky Laporte will perform at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Monday at Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, 314 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. Tickets for the 8 p.m. performance are $25. Tickets for the 10:30 performance are $30 and include party favors and a champagne split. Information: 734-996-9080 or aacomedy.com.

Internationally known comedian Alex Ortiz will spend New Year's Eve making laughs at Connxtions Comedy Club.

This south Bronx, N.Y., native is a former nurse, firefighter, and soldier who has shared the stage with the late Bernie Mac, DL Hughley, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Eddie Griffin.

He's headlined at clubs throughout the country and has toured in Japan, Italy, Spain, England, and Bosnia.

Alex Ortiz will perform at 6 and 10:30 p.m. Monday at Connxtions Comedy Club, 5319 Heatherdowns Blvd. Tickets for the 6 p.m. show are $59 and include a prime rib dinner buffet, party favors, and door prizes. Tickets for the 10:30 p.m. show are $39 and include a champagne toast, party favors, and dancing after midnight. Information: 419-867-9041 or connxtionscomedyclub.com.

Billy D. Washington, a part-time church musician and full-time national headlining comedian, will take to the stage Monday at Funny Bone Comedy Club located in Fat Fish Blue Restaurant, Levis Commons, in Perrysburg.

Washington has appeared on HBO's Def Comedy Jam, Comedy Central's Premium Blend, and Last Comic Standing. He has opened for Aretha Franklin.

Billy D. Washington will be performing at 7 p.m. and at 10 p.m. Monday at Funny Bone Comedy Club in Fat Fish Blue Restaurant, 6140 Levis Commons, Perrysburg. Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $62 and include a dinner buffet. Tickets for the 10 p.m. performance are $47 and include an appetizer buffet. Information: 419-931-3474 or funnybonefatfishtoledo.com.

Please send theater items at least two weeks in advance to jnjaim@theblade.com.



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