Murder Actually

Austin Madsen, left, Sereniti Patterson, Daniel Salazar and Genevieve Myers perform a scene from “Murder Actually” during a dress rehearsal Tuesday evening in the Temple High School cafeteria.

Deception, drama and dinner are being served this week at Temple High School.

The THS Theatre Department will present a murder mystery dinner theater this weekend in the school’s main cafeteria.

Performances of “Murder Actually” by Edith Weiss will begin 7 p.m. today and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door, and include the meal. Seating is limited, and advance tickets are available online at CentralTexasTickets.com.

Dinner will be prepared by parents of theater students and will include spaghetti, salad, garlic bread and brownie a la mode.

Because of ongoing renovations to the fine arts space at Temple High School, the thespians have had to make other arrangements for this season’s performances.

“Because we’re out of our auditorium, we have to find an alternative space, so we thought it would be fun to do a little murder mystery dinner theater,” said director Natasha Tolleson.

The three-quarter setup allows the audience to be positioned on three sides of the stage and sometimes right alongside the actors.

“Murder Actually” is set in the fall of 1908 at the Withering Heights Estate. It’s the weekend of Algernon Poe and Catherine’s wedding, and no one is happy about it. Not the bride and bridegroom, not the Poe family, not the neighbors, the servants or the entertainment. Especially not Algernon’s brother, Heath- cliff, and his friend, Lady Virginia, who have raced home from their world travels to be at the wedding. Strange things begin happening and it appears the wedding is off. But the assembled characters soon realize all is not what it seems.

Tolleson said the play is very silly, borrowing names and words from the works of writers such as the Brontes and Oscar Wilde.

“It’s just sort of a parody of this time, the turn of the century in England,” she said. “You’ve got lots of maids and a nanny and a butler, and it’s just a spoof of British society at the time period.”

Junior Sereniti Patterson plays Nanny, a character who’s “trying to stir up a little bit of trouble for the wrong reasons.”

Patterson said she believes the audience will enjoy the setting they find themselves in.

“The costumes are amazing, the accents are hilarious, and I think they’re just going to enjoy coming and seeing such a goofy play,” she said.

Junior Daniel Salazar plays Brutus, Catherine’s bodyguard and Nanny’s accomplice. He said that because of the setting and the environment, the audience becomes part of the play. He said there are points at which characters are performing right next to them, so the audience is basically part of the world of Withering Heights.

Senior Olivia Cabrera plays Scarlet de Dalveen, a neighbor who’s trying to weasel her way into the Poe family.

“She’s a bit rude and doesn’t mind saying exactly what’s on her mind at all times,” Cabrera said. “But she’s just an instigator and she tries to figure out the murder that happens.”

Cabrera said “Murder Actually” is a dramatic comedy during which every movement and action of the cast is over-emphasized.

“It’s very collectively chaotic,” she said.