A Little Murder with Dinner, Please
Off the Cuff with Beth Lewinski & Richard Laguna
Beth Lewinski and Richard Laguna never imagined that moonlighting as a part of the local ComedySportz improv troupe would lead to a career in helping to solve murders—or in helping to commit them. But after performing for a group of people looking to bring the national Dinner Detective franchise to Milwaukee, that’s just what they’ve been doing most Saturday nights at the Doubletree Hotel, 611 W. Wisconsin Ave. Recently, Lewinski and Laguna sat down with Off the Cuff to talk about acting over dinner and how to solve a murder.
You both come from an improv background. How is performing in a murder mystery show different from that? What are some of the unique challenges?
R.L.: Definitely you have to follow a structured story, you need to get from the beginning to the end and make it clear for the audience so they know what’s going on. You don’t want it to be a complete mystery. Pun totally intended.
B.L.: And this is true of any script you do more than once, but you need to make the stuff that is planned look as off the cuff as the stuff that isn’t. You want the audience to have a good time, but you don’t want to make it obvious. Keeping it fresh … that’s a good challenge.
RL: Oh yeah.
BL: If we’re doing a script for a year, we want to make sure we’re doing the same quality of show for that first audience as the 20th and 30th.
What makes for a good show?
RL: You definitely need an audience that is willing to have fun, to really try to solve the mystery and to get into it. There’s always the “too cool for this” type person that was dragged there. And then there’s the overzealous, “now’s my time to be funny” guy. If you can find something right in the middle, if they just want to figure it out and have fun and don’t mind being put a little bit on the spot, that makes for a great show right there.
BL: Yeah, just if they are enthusiastic and they want to be there. It’s fun when we get people who were brought there and they don’t know what this is. If we have a couple of people who are surprised by what they are at, that’s always fun.
Any hints on how to solve a dinnertime murder?
R.L.: Listen. Pay attention and you’ll get there. I don’t think any of them are impossible to solve or too hard for the average person.
BL: Yeah, just listen and have fun. But also, don’t worry too much about it. Just have fun.
For more information on the Milwaukee Dinner Detective show, visit thedinnerdetective.com/milwaukee.