The Community Alliance for Stage and Theater (C.A.S.T.) is warming up the winter months with a Caribbean vacation, courtesy of its latest dinner theater production NOIR SUSPICIONS. Now audiences can enjoy a trip to the romantic island of Mustique without ever leaving home. All that’s needed is a ticket to experience this captivating audience participation mystery/comedy performed by a group now entering its 30th year of continuous production.
NOIR SUSPICIONS is the latest in a series of plays set in a seedy, atmospheric island bar serving as a hang-out for all manner of eccentric and shady types—some more law-abiding than others. The play pays tribute to classic old black-and-white films such as CASABLANCA and THE MALTESE FALCON, and characters may seem familiar to fans of famous actors like Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. Previous entries in the series have included CAFÉ NOIR and NOIR POINT BLANK, both performed by C.A.S.T. in previous years to sold-out and appreciative audiences. The group is looking to recreate the same sense of intrigue offered by the earlier shows.
The fun starts when Rick Archer—“Just Plain Rick” to friends and foes alike, again finds himself embroiled in a complicated—and funny—web of schemes, counter-plots and dangerous skullduggery. Murder and worse may ensue—or does it? The group hopes you’ll come to find out.
“The two earlier NOIR plays are among the most elaborate and demanding shows the group has ever mounted,” notes group president Kevin Kincheloe. “This latest installment is on an even bigger scale. And one of the good things about all three plays is that they offer great opportunities for audience participation. They’re written with that in mind. So we hope people will arrive ready to be part of the story and to have fun as performers.” He notes that all the NOIR plays are authored by David Landau, a well-known mystery writer who pioneered the idea of interactive mystery plays.
C.A.S.T. has made a specialty out of audience participation at its dinner theater shows. Kincheloe notes that audience members are asked before the show if they want to take part in the proceedings, so that no one is ambushed. “Some people like to simply come, watch, and enjoy a good meal,” he explains. “And we love it when they do that, and also when they become a brief part of our play. David Landau is renowned for this kind of show, so we think people will have an especially good time either way”. Kincheloe also states that audiences typically compare the group’s dinner theater shows to the productions at Agatha’s mystery dinner theater in downtown Atlanta, only at half the price. “And many have rated us better,” he says.
The show is directed by group veteran John Reynolds, who directed last year’s successful production of the non-participation Southern comedy, ‘TILL BETH DO US PART. He is especially anxious to try out this kind of audience-oriented whodunit both as a change of pace and as a new challenge. Reynolds has also served for years as the group’s technical specialist, and is accordingly eager to make lighting and sound an integral part of the show. “We trust John as someone who knows what he’s doing in terms of tech stuff,” says Kincheloe. “We were glad he agreed to do this show because we know he has lots of innovative ways to help evoke the island setting.” He goes on to comment that, “while not a musical, NOIR SUSPICIONS will feature music and musical interludes as a key part of the play”.
The cast include a mix of both familiar faces and newcomers. Returning audience favorites include Harrison Rogers as assistant director, Tracey Egan, Donald Henderson, Linda Shaw, Bryant Deal Alan White and Kincheloe himself (in the Lorre role, complete with fez). Among the fresh players are Tawania Grangent and Trent Spencer.
NOIR SUSPICIONS will be performed at the group’s familiar Olive Tree venue on February 20 and 21 (The Olive Tree Villa Rica) and February 27 and March 12 (The Olive Tree Hiram). The show will also be staged at Studio T in Douglasville on February 13 and at Irish Bred Pub on O’Neal Plaza in downtown Douglasville on March 6. A private performance will be given at the Bremen United Methodist Church on February 14. Kincheloe muses that “we like having the multiple venues for all kinds of reasons. Each has its own ambience and audience pool. Each covers different geographical areas. And when it comes to the food, each venue has its own unique ‘flavor’”.
Cost for the show and a multi-course meal is $36.00, plus tax. Evening show start at 7:00 p.m., while Sunday matinees begin at 4:00 p.m. To make reservations, check the group’s website at www.castplays.com or contact each restaurant.
The group also plans a busy year beyond this first production. C.A.S.T. was formed in 1986 for the purpose of performing outdoor summer theater, and quickly graduated to dinner theater offerings and other types of theater, including serious stage productions like A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE and THE RAINMAKER. The group is best known now for their interactive whodunnit and comedy dinner theater productions. To celebrate its three decades of live performances, the group plans to schedule a series of anniversary events throughout the year, and to add touches of its history to each production. Having The recently received their 501(c)3 status, they continue to give back to the community with a number of fund raising shows for various worthy causes.
The group will stage other dinner theater shows during the remainder of the year, and will also offer its first full-length Christmas show (never too early to start planning for the holidays). It is also excited to be continuing its new “4G Festival”, featuring one acts by Georgia playwrights, performed by Georgia actors at the local venue, Uncorked on Main – a wineshop selling Georgia wines. Kincheloe hopes that “this will attract attention to the area from local authors and performers and help put the communities out here on the cultural map to stay.”
C.A.S.T. is also eager to perform for private functions, charity events or fundraisers, and to get more people involved with the group as actors and directors, or for off-stage work. To find out more, or to submit a play for the Festival, check out www.castplays.com or the group’s Facebook page at CAST Productions (Douglasville).