Hamilton, Ohio – Nothing says fun quite like a murder.
A pretend murder, anyway.
The Fitton Center closes its Jazz & Cabaret Series May 20 with its first-ever interactive murder mystery in the Carruthers Signature Ballroom.
The lavish setting allows the Murder and Merriment company to re-create a Roaring ‘20s underworld vibe for Prohibition Murder!, set in 1928 Chicago. When Mayor and Prohibition advocate Big Bill Taylor turns up at Kitty Malone’s - one of the Windy City’s many swanky speakeasies – his enemies track him down.
Detective Philip Merlot – a take-off on Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe character, made famous on the silver screen by Humphrey Bogart – leads the audience through the twists and turns of the case.
“Our audience members are permitted to be as interactive as they want, or they can choose to be voyeuristic and sit back and watch,” said Murder and Merriment owner George Snider, who also plays Merlot. “There is never a requirement for our audience members to take on the role of a character in our mysteries or have the pressure of entertaining other members of our audiences. We handle all of that for the guests.”
They handle it well.
“I started our company in 2010 in Huntington, West Virginia. I have grown the company over the last 13 years to now include five additional companies in Cincinnati, Lexington, Louisville, North Central Ohio, and Baton Rouge,” Snider said. “We have over 230 actors within our company.
“Our venues include banquet halls, restaurants, river boats, casinos, trains, hotels, churches, business locations, wineries, libraries, distilleries and theatres. My all-time favorite venue has been the American Queen, which is the world's largest riverboat.”
Murder and Merriment performs up to eight shows a week from its library of 60-plus original mystery plays.
“Audiences for generations have thrilled at being entertained by mysteries,” Snider said. “From Edgar Allen Poe's stories to Sherlock Holmes, from radio plays to Ellery Queen mysteries, from movies to plethora of crime-drama TV like Murder She Wrote, Columbo, NCIS, Barnaby Jones, CSI and Castle. Audiences love a good mystery.”
Some 3,000 illegal booze joints whetting the whistles of Chicago residents during Prohibition - Al Capone reportedly pulled in $6 million a week supplying booze to speakeasies – offer a good backdrop for a good mystery.
“The Roaring ‘20s is a romantic and exciting period of Americana,” Snider said. “Gangsters and flapper girls and illegal alcohol can make for a thrilling story of adventure, conflict and romance. Guests who attend our Prohibition-era murder mysteries often dress up for the occasion, which ties them closer to the show.”
Solving crime isn’t as easy as slipping on a zoot suit, though, no matter how fun it is. Snider said on average, only 10 to 20 percent of a given audience successfully cracks the case, but prizes await Fitton Center detectives whose deductive powers stay sharp.
Tickets for Prohibition Murder! are $32 for Fitton Center members and $39 for non-members; they are available online right here or by calling 513-863-8873, ext. 110.
The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.
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