I haven't decided what the deal is with interactive murder mystery dinner theater, or whether I like it in general. It's possible you'll get to see me work that whole issue out, right in this virtual space, one of these days. But in the meantime, I had a swell time at Patsy's Bridal Shower, an optionally interactive bridal-shower dinner (or brunch!) theater that ran for five years in Chicagoland and has now invaded Broadway Palm West Dinner Theatre in Mesa.
The basic premise is that friends and relatives of the groom, who comes from a moneyed, snooty Paradise Valley family, arrive at the double-wide Buckeye mobile home of the bride (Patsy), her mother (Edie), and their casino-co-worker friend and housemate, Bobbit, for a nice wedding shower to which we've all been invited, too. You're welcome to just sit there, pound back a few cocktails, enjoy Chef Michael Schook's buffet, and watch the show. Or you can participate a bit, or a bit more, as the mood strikes you. The cast members are sweet and non-threatening, so it's all good. And good fun.
I find Nick Kurasz and Richard Schultz' script a little rough (with weaknesses specifically in character development and natural-sounding dialogue) and a bit long. But I did see this cast on only its second weekend, and even at that point, their energy and confidence were close to overcoming those drawbacks.
This type of performance is hard work. Although, in this case, audience responses don't affect the plot, it can still be a challenge to recover from, for example, a Red Hat Society member and five other total strangers performing a choreographed version of "We've Only Just Begun" and pick up, straightfaced, where you left off, so kudos, cast. (And yes, I was one of the singers, and we were the best, and I therefore won a Rice Krispies treat, so color me biased.)
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Tom Prather's scenic design transforms the main stage platform and selected nooks around the Marquee Room (the smaller banquet/ballroom space at Broadway Palm) into an authentically faux-wood-paneled, tackily decorated trailer. It's a co-ed shower, so feel free to bring the guys.
Patsy's Bridal Shower continues through Sunday, May 9, at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 5247 East Brown Road in Mesa. Admission includes a full buffet meal -- not as many choices as in the big theater, but just as much food and just as good, if not better. (I loved the Sunday brunch selections, which included seafood crepes, meatless frittata with a chunky red sauce, and the same perfectly steamed veggies, followed by Boston cream pie, that have been wowing me since Schook came on board sometime in the past few years and stepped up the kitchen's game.)
Adult ticket prices are $39 ($22 for children 12 and younger), with show-and-dessert-only seats available for $24, or $20 for children. Student rush show-and-dessert tickets are $12, available 30 minutes before curtain for high-school and college students with a current school ID. To check times and dates, order tickets, or for more information, looky here or call 480- 325-6700.