Murder, mystery — and dancing

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, June 12, 2018

By Lorenzo Salinas


While it didn’t take place in a darkly lit room with suspicious characters wearing fedoras and avoiding Johnny Law, the media launch event for “Bullets for Broadway” did take place in a room with several notable figures from local theater and community.

The Carl Parker Center at Lamar State College Port Arthur was the scene for members from Port Arthur Little Theatre, Lamar State and the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission to gather and discuss details about the upcoming murder mystery dinner play, “Bullets for Broadway.”

Joe Tant with the planning commission described the dinner as set up around the board game Clue — only with a healthy dash of old-school mafia.

“This is Italian mafia; this is crime; this is drama; this is spaghetti and meatballs,” he said.

“It’s a fun show. It’s a musical,” Nikki Turner, director, said. “So, it’s not time specific; it could be set at any time.”

In the story, Tony Alto is a mobster whose wife, Toffee, wants to be a Broadway star. Through his connections, Tony sets up a Broadway musical to be the vehicle for Toffee’s success as well as a front for his money-laundering scheme.

“It’s set in their club after opening night,” Turner said. “All the cast members are there celebrating their success. There was barely anyone in the audience, but they sold it out and now they’re waiting for the reviews to come in.”

Part of the drama would come from Tony and the crew needing the reviews to be great — or else.

“There will be fun dance numbers,” Turner said. “And there will be a big incentive for the higher tables you purchased to be closer to the action you’ll be involved in.”

The “Bullets for Broadway” dinner theater will have an interactive component for several members of the audience. Turner compared some of the activities planned to the word game Mad Libs, where players take turns reading and writing nonsensical stories.

“Our patrons will be playing Mad Libs,” Turner said. “Our reviews will be pre-invented and the people at the upper tables will get to write in some of them.

“Then our actors will get to talk about something from the reviews.”

She gave an example of a fake review from The Post being filled in by an audience member in which an actor would later cite the performance of the play — whether it be good or bad.

“It’s very interactive,” Turner said. “One of our lead actresses will pick out a gentleman and lady from the crowd and put them in mafia attire.”

Turner said those patrons who pay more would “get more” as a result of being seated closer to the show; however, she did say those in the back would not be forgotten.

“There’s action that will play at the back of the room, too,” she said. “For example, there will be gunshots that will go off in the lobby.”

Both Turner and PALT board president Richard Lene agreed that folks would feel more a part of the show if they dressed the part. Accordingly, members in the room suggested fedoras and clean suits for men and period-modest dresses and gloves for women.

Essentially though, they said dress could be chosen from across the century.

“This show does not have to be era-specific,” Turner said. “Whatever era they’d be interested in, they could come as.”

“It’s a big family, Port Arthur Little Theatre,” Lene said. “And family takes care of family — and we consider the community family.”

“Bullets for Broadway” will run from 6-9 p.m. Aug. 30 at Lamar State College Port Arthur. Sponsorship levels range from $50 to $1,000, with reserved tables starting at $500.

Proceeds will go toward fundraiser benefits like Lamar State’s scholarships and for rebuilding the Port Arthur Little Theatre after it had sustained damage from Tropical Storm Harvey.

For more information, call 409-923-8800 or go the theater’s website at