SIKESTON -- Nothing says lovin' like solving a good murder mystery on Valentine's Day weekend.
At least that's what the Sikeston Area Humane Society is hoping to achieve. It's providing couples -- and singles -- an alternate way to spend the holiday next month by sponsoring a murder mystery dinner theater.
"It's just a fun kind of event, and rather than going to a dinner or dance for Valentine's Day, it's a different way to spend the evening," said Mary Ann McSpadden, immediate past president of Humane Society.
This year's production is "Dead Air," by Lee Mueller and directed by Terry Jones. It is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Manhattan Room, located at 209 E. Center St. in Sikeston.
"The theme is a radio show -- and the murder mystery we don't know much about," confessed Leslie Winchester, Humane Society board member. "The Sikeston Little Theatre is putting it on and they won't tell us much about it."
Rebecca McClure, treasurer of the Humane Society board, agreed the production's director Terry Jones, who's with the Sikeston Little Theatre, will not give away any clues.
"He will only say that we will like it. I do know it's partially set in the 1970s and 1940s," McClure said.
Audience members will have the chance to decide what happened and figure out "Who dunnit?"
"It's kind of exciting and we literally have actors as part of the audience," McSpadden said. "There will be a murder and it's very entertaining and it's something that's funny and kind of suspenseful -- and the audience gets to be a part of it."
The production is comprised of 10 players from the Sikeston Little Theatre.
"They do a fantastic job and work really hard for a month or two before," McSpadden said about the actors.
In October 2003, the Humane Society and Little Theatre presented their first murder mystery dinner called "Murder Me Always," which was a murder within a murder, McSpadden recalled.
"There is no stage. Actors will walk around in the audience, which is sitting at tables," McSpadden explained. "This will be like a radio show and then someone gets murdered of course."
Dinner will begin at 7 p.m., followed by the production, an intermission for dessert and then the conclusion of the play.
Following the production, everyone gets a chance to guess who the murderer is; then of the correct answers, a name is drawn to receive a prize, McClure said.
"Last year there were quite a few who got it right and quite a few who got it wrong, but it leads you one way and then a totally different way," McClure said about the plot.
The idea for the murder mystery dinner theater came after a group of local residents attended a murder mystery at a winery in Illinois, McSpadden recalled.
"There were really only two actors in that, but they did such a good job and we thought it was a fun thing. So we thought we'd try it here," McSpadden explained.
Tickets were even sold out for the first year with 134 people in attendance at the Jaycee Sponsor Barn. This year the murder mystery dinner theater will be held in the Manhattan Room, which will hold 200 people. Dress is casual, although some people prefer to dress up, McClure noted. "This was something different and the Humane Society needed something different to do that nobody else did -- and it's so fun," McSpadden said.
Proceeds will benefit the Sikeston Area Humane Society with their everyday operations, Winchester said. Admission is $35 per person or $60 per couple. The event is catered by Susie's Bake Shoppe, and a cash-bar will be provided by Jeremiah's Restaurant and Lounge.
"It's a lot of fun and it benefits the animals at the shelter," McClure said. "Hopefully a lot of people will want to attend because of that."
For tickets and more information contact the Sikeston Area Humane Society at (573) 471-4801.