February 29, 2012 - Independence Township author Patience Beer is always thinking about how current events can be integrated into her interactive plays. Beer has written her 10th play, "Murder Crashes the Wedding," for Clarkston Area Optimists Club.
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This is the fifth play she has produced for the Optimists, this year set for March 3 at 6 p.m.
"Murder mysteries have to be thought of as a game, the solution to the mystery has to be easy enough for someone to figure out but not too obvious," said Beer, a retired librarian and voracious reader.
With a wedding, there are no shortage of plots. She has been thinking about the play for about six months and wrote it in January.
While Beer loves a good mystery and Kate Atkinson is her latest favorite, a murder mystery in an interactive play format has to be structured differently because it is 100 percent exposition. The events in an interactive play throw the audience into the story.
Beer laughs as she says she is influenced by the Marx Brothers and "Law and Order," ripped from the headlines. Members of the Beer family have appeared in her previous plays. Beer, a published author, says she comes from a family of writers, with her father authoring a mystery.
"Murder Crashes the Wedding" revolves around character Bindy Armbrewster, a woman in her fifties who has been married five times and widowed shortly after those weddings. Armbrewster plans to marry 27-year old Butch Cassidy Rockefellow. Beer's humor in names is evident throughout the play.
Beer said she takes some of her ideas from real life people and events. Listening to reports of the Kardashian wedding last year prompted her to put the murder mystery together with a wedding. Beer says the character Bambi Beyonce Armbrewster, step-mother of Bindy, is based loosely on the life of Anna Nicole Smith. Joining Bindy, Butch, and Bambi, will be a wedding planner, the best man, and an uninvited guest. Every character has secrets about themselves and nobody is quite who you think they are, Beer said.
Guests arriving at the Optimist dinner and play will be greeted by the actors, who will also mingle with the guests during the open wine and beer bar. Beer says she gives her actors a back story so when they are questioned by the audience, they can answer honestly.
The play is preceded by a dinner and silent auction. The play will be performed by local Clarkston Area Optimist members, ending with the murder scene. Each dinner table at the play will have the opportunity to solve the murder mystery and name a suspect. Beer says a prize is awarded for the winning table and also to the table with the most imaginative solution.
"After the audience makes their guesses, the final scene of the play or the solution scene is acted out telling what really happened," Beer said.
Beer laughed and said, "there is no room for subtlety in an interactive play."
She said she loves to see the plays performed and it is her donation to the Optimist mission "of making a better future for the young people of the community."
The dinner theater is a major fundraiser of the Clarkston Area Optimist Club. Tickets are $60 per person for dinner, a beer and wine bar, silent auction and the murder mystery play. This year's event will be at Paint Creek Golf Club, 2375 Stanton Road. Tickets can be purchased at Brose Electric, 5897 Dixie Highway, Pay Pal, or from a local Optimist member.
BY JOETTE KUNSE
Special to the Clarkston News