Woman Scripts Performances for Gibsonia Church's Mystery Theater

By Hofstetter, Bethany | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 29, 2010 | Go to article overview

Woman Scripts Performances for Gibsonia Church's Mystery Theater


Hofstetter, Bethany, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Bobby Mais and the Tri-State Gang terrorized Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland in the early 1930s, and now, they're back in town and up to no good at Hampton Presbyterian Church.

Mais and his band of ne'er-do-wells take the stage along with a postal inspector and a cast of town characters in the church's 11th annual Mystery Dinner Theatre that opened Wednesday and continues through Saturday.

"The Code" is a four-act play set in a 1930s-era speakeasy and filled with historically accurate characters dealing with the realities of Prohibition and gangsters. The mystery starts when an object comes up missing and the small-town speakeasy begins to be threatened by the Tri-State Gang.

Karen Schmidt of Hampton is a postal worker by day but felt called to pen plays during her off-hours when the church was looking for a mystery dinner script to perform. The production was so well received, she has volunteered to write a new script each year.

"As long as people still want to come and are still excited about it, I'll keep doing it," Schmidt said. "The Lord always puts an idea in my head. It's a fun way to give a little message."

Each story has an underlying scriptural message that plays a role in solving the mystery. Diners who are able to identify the missing object, who has it, the reason it went missing and the scriptural connection win a prize. Guests can interrogate the actors between acts to try to solve the mystery, or just enjoy each portion of the four-course dinner that is served between each act.

"It's different from something else they might see from a city theater or community theater," said Pam Ranallo, who plays the speakeasy manager. …

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