The Murder Mystery Company hosts dinner parties with a case to solve, and one of their regular spots is in Jersey City. A curious person and complete newbie to interactive dinner theater, I jumped at the chance to attend one of MMC’s shows at Sanai’s (510 Summit Ave.) earlier this month.
I was in for quite the experience. First, detectives, you must sign up in advance via their website, grimprov.com. Tickets include a 3-course dinner (bevvies and gratuity not included) and the very interactive murder mystery show from “the nation’s most popular interactive theater company.”
Once you book your party, you’ll receive your theme. Mine was “Wanted, Dead or Alive!,” a whodunnit set in 1887. Members of the audience are encouraged to dress up—and there is even a costume contest at the end. Immediately, I needed to get some attire. A couple of cowboy shirts, hats, bandanas and boots later, my date and I were ready to go.
I’m not sure how I’ve never heard about the popularity of mystery dinner parties in JC—the restaurant was jam-packed with cowboys, cowgirls, saloon gals, Native Americans, and serious duster jackets and hats on townsmen.
Actors are hired to perform for the show, and all audience members are labeled as detectives. You are seated at a table of 8-10, and your table serves as your team for the evening. Ours was the smallest 6 people, as some had canceled, so we were immediately at a disadvantage, but I was there for the experience and not in it to win it. (Sorry, mates!)
The two-hour interactive event was nothing if not intense. It’s an entertaining mix of actors performing scenes and providing monologues, guests discussing clues with their tables about suspects, guests dividing and going to other tables individually to bribe actors (with fake money) for more clues, reconvening, eating a bite here or there (note: Sanai’s was good and I will def be back on a regular night to review it), hearing more monologues, evidence, and repeating the cycle of gathering clues and reconvening.
The wild, suspensful, involved extravaganza is a bit much for a first-timer trying to keep track of information overload and all of the 120 or so people there. I found it hard to hear the evidence and clues because of audience noise. Additionally, one woman in our group wanted to take complete control of our investigation (fine with me, not so fine with some of our other team members who traveled from far-away towns and wanted more input).
At the end of the evening, all teams proposed their final verdicts and handed slips of paper to the announcer. At first, my group was led to believe we solved the mystery, but then that told our conclusion was so outlandishly off. However, we were so outgoing that we won the award for Team Spirit! That’s the best award, anyway.
Several other awards were handed out (including the best costume one) and then as our table settled the tip and ate dessert, we finally had some time to talk on a personal level. I love meeting new people. All in all, it was a crazy night and I’d totally do it again.
Tickets are $60 each, but I happen to have a giveaway. Two free tickets for the best comment on this article about why you deserve to go!
Murder Mystery Company also holds holiday parties, corporate events, small party events, and team building events. Visit grimprov.com for more info.