Dinner theatre is returning to Orangeburg as the Bluebird Theatre hosts “Southern Fried Murder” Thursday, June 15 through Sunday, June 18.

The show, performed by the Orangeburg Part-Time Players, is an interactive murder mystery that gives the audience a chance to figure out who done it.

Director Anseanee Copeland Williams brings this show to the stage after directing “Murder on the Orient Express” last season. During the run, the theatre offered one night that featured a dinner prior to the show. Now, Williams and her cast will be tasked with serving a meal each night of the show’s run.

“Murder mysteries may become my niche,” Williams said with a smile. “I really enjoy them, and to do another is really fun. We think Orangeburg is ready for a dinner theatre, so all four nights will feature a dinner catered by Presley’s Dining and Catering.

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“The script calls for the cast to serve the audience, making it completely interactive.”

Williams’ backstage team includes Assistant Director Jessica Nuckolls, Tech Director Donald Lee Jr., Stage Manager Margie Cramer and House Manager Tiffiney Hardy.

“Southern Fried Murder” takes place at the Towering Oaks Hotel in New Orleans. Magnolia, matriarch of the Capote family, has gathered her remaining kin to discuss her will. As each member of the family is in desperate need of the money, they are willing to listen to her overtures.

“The play begins as a scavenger hunt in search of the will,” Williams said. “I love the levity of (the show), no one is taking themselves too seriously. The activity and interactions are hilarious, and the murder almost becomes secondary. You have crazy characters, elusive characters and everyone has a motive.”

Jacquelynn Williams plays Stump Slattery, the youngest of the Capote clan. She, along with her twin brother Will, team up in order to be the first to find the missing will.

“The character of Stump is so much different from any role I’ve ever done,” Williams said. “I am the complete opposite of what the character calls for, but it’s exciting to have a role like that. I also like the interactions with the audience and seeing their reactions close up. It gives us that personal relationship.”

There is much breaking of the fourth wall in “Southern Fried Murder” as cast members are tasked with helping “serve” the audience during the show.

Benjamin Fairchild plays the local sheriff who is tasked with not only finding the killer, but also getting a piece of the Capote fortune.

“From the actor’s perspective, the audience participation is fun because it gives us a chance to veer away from the script and just have a conversation with the people, to have that ebb and flow without the rails of the script,” Fairchild said.

Fairchild recently moved to Orangeburg from New Orleans, and auditioned for his role via Facetime. He has enjoyed working with a more tight-knit group.

“It’s a smaller theatre than I’m used to, but the group has been a pleasure to work with,” Fairchild said. “This company is more intimate, and there’s more interaction. We’re constantly coming up with lines backstage.”

The cast also includes: Douglas Malick, Andy Faust-Saunders, Seth Bragg, Ricanne Bragg, Bob Wood, Natalie Able, Destiny Smith and Christian Hartselle.

“It’s an interesting mix of veterans and new faces,” Williams said. “What I love about local theatre is we volunteer our time, and we come here to have fun and perform. When this cast comes together, they bring another level of character and fun, and that’s what we want. The chemistry on the stage will flow out to our audience.”

“Southern Fried Murder” is scheduled to open Thursday, June 15 at 7:30 at the Bluebird Theatre in Orangeburg. Tickets are $35 for the dinner which begins at 6 p.m. You can also buy non-dinner tickets for $15. Sunday’s matinee will feature a dinner beginning at 1 p.m. with the show starting at 3 p.m. To purchase tickets, go to bluebirdorangeburg.ticketleap.com.

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