Pandemic upstages popular dinner theatre

Who done it? She did it! Enid Strict played by Lynn Florence, right, is convicted of double murder in the murder mystery announced by Mme. Leveau played by Helene Hausler. The scene was part of the murder mystery dinner theatre when The Local Actors Having Fun Troupe presented Bumped Off On Bourbon Street in Jean Cote Community Centre in 2020 on March 7 and 14.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

A popular murder mystery dinner theatre held each March in Jean Cote has been cancelled for 2021 because of gathering restrictions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

After 14 consecutive years, the Local Actors Having Fun [LAHF] Troupe will not be able to stage the two nights of drama and dinner in the hamlet north of Falher.

Usually staged on the first two Saturdays in March, the event draws a full house at the Jean Cote Community Centre.

“The actors really are going to miss not having a play in 2021,” says Hilda Grenier, who has played a variety of characters in the cast for many years.

“We are all very disappointed.”

Jean Cote Community Cultural Development Society voted in October 2020 to cancel the event.

However, LAHF plans and hopes to be back next year.

“We will definitely miss our audience this year,” Grenier says.

“We just want them all to know we will be back in 2022.”

Restrictions on large gatherings and serving food left the organizers with the only option to cancel the event.

“Our community centre is small and we usually have anywhere from 200-230 paying guests to see the show,” Grenier says.

“So the restrictions that are currently in place for large gatherings would have to be totally gone.

“This would be the only safe and responsible way for us to put on the play.”

She notes the play usually has a cast of 10 people and 20-25 volunteers prepare and serve the dinner.

Even if restrictions are relaxed by spring, it takes a lot of time to prepare for the event.

“It’s a three-month commitment by the actors with play practices being filled with fun and ad-libbing and big changes to the original script,” Grenier says. “We work well together and the dynamics between the actors is the best.”

The dinner theatre features talent from throughout the Smoky River region and has grown into a major spring event.

“It’s become like a tradition,” Grenier says.

“Most of our guests are local. They love to get dressed in the theme of our play.

“We see so much creativity in the ideas everyone brings,” she adds.

Funds raised support costs for ongoing maintenance and repairs at the community centre.

Share this post