MurderWatch Mystery Theater
1850 Hotel Plaza Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista 32830
(in Baskervilles Restaurant in the Grosvenor Resort Hotel)
Prices: Adults $39.95, children (9 and under) $10.95. Prices include tax and gratuity.
Times: Saturdays only at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Directions:-4 to Exit 68, west on SR 535 (Apopka-Vineland Road), then left on Hotel Plaza Boulevard (opposite the Crossroads Shopping Center). The Grosvenor Resort is on the right.
In the elegant confines of Baskerville’s Restaurant, decorated with etchings of scenes from the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a sumptuous buffet is being served. A cabaret act has been laid on for the entertainment of the guests but, as is so typical of the underbelly of show biz, jealousies and intrigue are waiting just off stage. Before long, murder most foul has reared its ugly head and the game is afoot.
This entertaining dinner party cum murder mystery features a female hostess-detective — “My name is Holmes, Shirley Holmes” — who clues us in on the rules of the game, keeps track of the body count, and catalogues the growing number of clues.
There are several different shows in the repertory of this talented local outfit, but I’m told the one I saw offers pretty typical mixture of merriment and mayhem. The action, which cleverly involves the professional and personal jealousies of the lounge-singing act that is the evening’s nominal entertainment, takes place throughout the large dining area. While it is always possible to see what is happening, it’s not always possible to hear, given the distance of your seat from the action of the moment. Audience members are encouraged to get up, move around the room, eavesdrop, and ask pointed questions, but good manners seem to keep most people in their seats. Nonetheless, by the time the evening winds to its conclusion, you will know all the dramatis personae and their relationships with each other and have your own suspicions about who dunnit.
As amateur detectives, the audience’s task is to solve the crime by listening to four widely divergent versions of “what really happened” and then voting with their feet by gathering in different corners of the room with the cast member they believe to be telling the truth.
In this show, the action is virtually continuous throughout the meal and wraps up shortly after everyone has had dessert — about two and a half hours. The cast is smoothly professional, good singers, and expert kibitzers with the audience (some of whom wind up becoming suspects in the final line-up). Virtually every table in the restaurant is visited by one or more cast members during the course of the evening, giving you a chance to size up the suspects at close range. The humor, while sometimes on the racy side, is strictly PG and the kids seem to love it. In fact, there is a special kids’ version of the show that is used when the number of children in the audience reaches critical mass. After the show, you can have your picture taken with cast members in a nearby room decorated to re-create Sherlock Holmes’ study at 221B Baker Street.
One of the drawbacks of the show is that it only takes place on Saturdays. On the plus side is that it takes place in Baskerville’s, a lovely restaurant at the Grosvenor Resort Hotel, on Disney property, which probably explains why the food here is the best of any Orlando area dinner attraction. It’s an all-you-can-eat affair, with at least three entree choices in addition to carved-to-order roast beef au jus and Yorkshire pudding. The dessert array is especially bountiful and of the highest quality. Unlimited beer and wine and full bar service are available for an additional fee.
Finding the show can be a bit tricky if you’re not familiar with the hotel’s layout. Depending on which elevator you get on, push either “5” or “M” (for Mezzanine); they both take you to the fifth floor where the restaurant is located. Perhaps the simplest way is to avail yourself of the valet parking at the hotel entrance ($6) and have the doorman direct you to the staircase in the lobby that leads upstairs to the restaurant. Dreamland Productions, which puts on MurderWatch Mystery Theater, may have other shows taking place at other venues in the area during your visit.
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