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Murder mystery dinner offers clues about community support

"Who did it" became the central question when the Washington County Public Library hosted its very own murder mystery dinner at the Chatom Community Center on Saturday, June 17, to raise funds for their children's programs.

With around 80 tickets sold, the night consisted of a well-rehearsed murder mystery production by local actors, a steak dinner, and a fun-filled clue hunt.

To start the evening off, the audience enjoyed a steak dinner from A Gathering Place. The dinner was complete with a loaded baked potato, garden salad, garlic bread, and assorted desserts.

While the crowd was enjoying their dinner, the actors picked two audience members to participate while mingling before the show. These two lucky audience members, Jim Criswell and Mark Olin played along with the cast.Three murder mystery participants work diligently to solve puzzles with their clues

The murder mystery production, “Win, Lose, or Die,” was set on the fictional musical game show, “Lyrical Pursuit”. The set was complete with a green screen, two stages, gold sequin tablecloths, and centerpieces made out of vintage records.

The audience joined in with the cast to guess lyrics in selected songs such as “Thriller,” “Ice Ice Baby,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Playing along with these lucky audience members were actors from Washington and Choctaw County. The actors consisted of summer workers of Washington County Public Library and volunteers who have been lifelong patrons of WCPL.

“Win, Lose, or Die'' was many of these actors’ first time in the spotlight. Mazie Owens, a volunteer and first-time actor, said she believes “everyone has stepped out of their comfort zone. We have watched each other slowly become more comfortable and flourish in our character roles.”

She added that she has always wanted to be in theater and the murder mystery dinner was a great opportunity to do something she always wanted to do.

Katelyn and Kristyn Maten traveled from Gilbertown, Alabama, to volunteer in the murder mystery production. Both Matens grew up attending the Summer Learning Program at Washington County Public Library. The Matens previously acted in numerous productions with the Choctaw County Arts Council.

Maten said, “We both have loved to participate in theater productions, so when we had the chance to do what we love and benefit the library, we jumped at the chance.”

Working behind the scenes was Don Welborn, volunteering as the sound tech.

Welborn said, “The performance by these young actors was amazing!”

Another actress and vital asset to the show was Holly Morris. She explained she auditioned for the murder mystery production in honor of her late son, Zach. She said, “This would have been right up his alley. When I saw it advertised, I knew immediately I wanted to audition in his honor.”

Along with these actors, WCPL summer interns Braxton Welborn, Hayley Platt, and Allie Floyd, acted in the production. Raven Coxwell, Megan Lang, and Braedon Williams, and other summer interns worked behind the scenes.

These actors, actresses, and stagehands performed two scenes with a clue hunt in the middle. Audience members were encouraged to interrogate characters of the production “Win, Lose, or Die” during their 45-minute clue hunt.Cast members of the murder mystery dinner stand together for a picture between two ferns

Each table joined together to solve the murder mystery through a seven-part clue packet. Clues were hidden under rugs, tables, and water fountains. Additionally, audience members were prompted to sing lyrics from “Copacabana'' and Queen songs to get their next clue.

The first seven clues led these sleuths to a poem they had to decipher to find out who among the “Lyrical Pursuit” cast members was the murderer.

The correct answers were entered into a drawing for the prize. While many people guessed correctly, three of the audience members with correct answers were picked randomly for the prizes.

The prizes were donated by Burro Borracho Mexican Restaurant, Almeida’s Mexican Restaurant, Chatom Energie Nutrition, and Andrews Ace Hardware. Each person who attended was also entered into a drawing for a door prize donated by B & F Drugs. Awards were also given for the most confused and creative answers.

While the night was fun-filled, it served a higher purpose for the children of Washington County. The proceeds of the night went to Washington County Public Library’s Children's Programs.

WCPL Children's Program Coordinator Beth Roney, said, “The children’s programs we provide at the library wouldn’t be possible without our partners, donors, and fundraisers. It is always humbling to see the town come together to support our fun, educational, enrichment programs for children—programs that have impacted families in the community for many generations.”

Roney said she was excited that audience members repeatedly said the night was a success. Chatom’s Mayor, Harold Crouch, said he enjoyed the evening and would support any murder mystery dinner the library decided to host in the future.

One mystery solved is that this is the first murder mystery dinner WCPL hosted and will certainly not be the last.

Tags: Chatom

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