The Murder Mystery Dinner Show has brought the roaring 20's to the Empress Tea Room and Bistro in North Tampa, but it's not all flappers and Fedoras: There's been a murder and only you can help solve the case!
From the minute my fellow detective and I entered the Bistro, er, Speakeasy, the show began. The local reporter gave us the scoop about the nefarious Don Lou, owner of the establishment, but quickly disappeared as the Don arrived. We met the Don, a real fast-talkin' gangster, checked in at the door, and headed over to a nice dame for some "libations". These are not included with the cost of the dinner theater tickets, but what with Prohibition and all, we needed to make the most of our visit.
Since it was just the two of us we were seated with four other sleuths, but if you head out with a larger group you can get a table to yourselves. The Don circled around to each table, rubbing elbows and whatnot, while we detectives all dove into our salads. When he stopped at our table, we were all in for a surprise when he announced that I was his dear old 88-year-old mother! And so the show really began, at least for me.
One person at each table was cast to play a character in the twisted tale. We were outfitted with some helpful props to identify ourselves, prompted about our roles, and instructed to be completely honest about any information we knew. But no character knew the murderer, even if it was them.
Whether you're playing a character or not, you're still heavily involved and encouraged to walk around interrogating key people and writing down any clues. Throughout the night, the room was full of people moving around, asking questions or making dirty deals and accusations.
Of course you're given time to eat your food, which was delicious, as the actors take over to keep the story moving. The timing of everything was excellent; not once did I feel rushed to finish my food or that information was being crammed in last minute. The Murder Mystery Dinner Show actors really had a great rhythm going, even with the unpredictability of a new audience.
All in all, if you're looking for something to do on a Friday or Saturday between now and June 30th, skip the movies, bar, or whatever your go-to is and head to the Empress Tea Lounge & Bistro for the Murder Mystery Dinner Show in Tampa.