WEST JORDAN — Every once in a while I attend a show that I just can’t get into even though much of the audience loves it. Poison Ivy Mysteries latest production fell flat for me. Even though all of the talent involved showed a lot of promise, a few key elements made for an evening that did not meet my expectations.Twilit and the Full-Blooded Princess follows the standard murder–mystery–dinner–theatre format we’ve seen in Utah: characters interact with the audience before the show and during dinner, show starts, someone dies, audience is left to interrogate the characters and submit their guesses, murderer is revealed and everyone goes home.
Now, I know I rushed through that bit, and I want to make sure I convey how fun a night of murder-mystery-musical-dinner theatre can be. There is potential for a riotous evening (the good kind) that you won’t soon forget.
The format of the evening seemed off. After a solid 30 minutes of waiting for dinner or the show to begin, our host Edward (of Twilight fame) welcomed the audience and introduced us to his bride Bella. A nice little musical number later and the show was then placed on pause for everyone to shuffle through the buffet line and enjoy some great BBQ at their tables.
I say the show was placed on pause because that’s really the abrupt feeling I had. During dinner the lights came up, characters helped serve the food, and the show didn’t really continue again till one hour later when the last of the audience members had finished their meals. Here we are 90 minutes into the evening and we still haven’t really started the story and now I have a bellyful of vittles coaxing me to finish the evening for a good night’s rest.
The script is clever. There are a lot of details that could make for some good comedy, unfortunately I had a lot of difficulty hearing the actors—not for lack of a sound system, but more due to lack of enunciation by the actors. I thought they did an excellent job with their characters. They were fun to watch when the pacing moved well. Particularly fun—though odd—was the dance off between Jacob (the werewolf) and Ron Weasley.
There is humor there, but I don’t think the actors trust the script enough yet. By that I mean that instead of indicating they’re saying something funny, it would do them well to play through the jokes and let the humor of the show naturally tickle the audience.
The most enjoyable part of the evening was the original music written by Nate Drew and Jeff Parks. That is a key trait of Poison Ivy that I love. All of their work (script & score) is original. Even though the night’s production didn’t connect well with me, I deeply respect the amount of work that went into the production and the dedication of the cast and production staff to put this show together.
If Poison Ivy can iron out the logistics of dinner, clean up the pacing during the show, and trust the humor of the script, I think there are the makings for a real quality evening. As it stands right now, this is not my idea of a good show, despite the overwhelming audience response that disagrees with me.