Leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air, and area teens are bringing thrills to the stage again for Teen Mystery Dinner Theatre. This is the sixth year the Teen Advisory Council, under the coordination of Abby Curl and the Peoria Park District, has sponsored the event.

The mystery this year, Box Office Poison, is about trying to revive a small theatre in Smuggler’s Cove. During the first night of try-outs for the season opener, one of the actors drops dead. There are plenty of people trying to help solve the mystery; the trouble is, they’re all suspects. This is a fun mystery, so grab a group of friends and enjoy a good meal and play something akin to the game of Clue: who did what to whom?

No further clues can be given out about the plot; in fact, the cast won’t get the conclusion until a couple of nights before the show. It drives them nuts, but they love it. This is a well-guarded secret, and that makes it fun for the cast as well; everyone loves to know a secret, and they’re very protective of the conclusion.

Teens from six area high schools and four communities are the only group on stage, but the audience is made up of friends, teachers, and parents. The kids in the show enjoy stumping their teachers. And pre-teens love these mysteries; they get a table together and have fun from the minute they walk in. It’s also a great idea for birthday parties. One year, the show actually went on the road for a corporate Christmas party, so it really does appeal to all ages.

Casting is always difficult because most mysteries are written for a small cast. However, I try to include more kids by having some of the newcomers share roles. The following cast members are veteran Mystery participants: Colleen Dermody, Ashley Guy, Kerry Hauer, Blair Kelly, Lindsay Sparrow, Elli Voorhees, and Landen Zumwalt. Newcomers to the event include Willis Barber, Ryan Bartram, Jonathan Friday, Taylor Gannon, Kyle Griffith, Sarah Morrow, Emily Nichelson, Monica Reardon, Anna Rooney, Stephanie Spain, Andrea Williams, and Mercedes Wheeler.

This event was named as an Outstanding Program by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association. And it’s popular with locals too. It always sells out, so get your tickets early and try to solve the mystery.

The date for this year’s event is November 4 and 5 at Ravina on the Lake. In the fall, it’s nice and dark—and just a little spooky to help set the stage for the event. The show starts at 6 p.m., but to begin the fun, plan to get there by 5:30 p.m. Tickets for the event cost $18 per person, which includes dinner and dessert. Several teens will act as support staff in serving the meal, and the cast will serve dessert. One year, a waiter began throwing rolls at the audience—they loved it, and that tradition has continued, providing they know who’s at the table. For more information, call 681-2859. AA!