Pictured (L to R) are, front row: David Haines, Lin Metzger; back row: Glenn Hall, Leah Hoskins, Chuck Brindle, Sarah Kerschner and Justin Keller.
Pictured (L to R) are, front row: David Haines, Lin Metzger; back row: Glenn Hall, Leah Hoskins, Chuck Brindle, Sarah Kerschner and Justin Keller.
Even if you can’t escape the snow for a sunny Caribbean cruise, you can soak up hours of fun and laughter aboard the Center Street Community Theatre production of “Murder on the S.S. Amore.”

Shows will be Friday and Saturday.

The cast has transformed the entire Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts into an imaginary cruise ship where the audience will be participating in solving the murder of a fellow passenger.

Producer and director Jennifer Shepherd has presented at least a dozen murder mystery nights over the years, but was still amazed at the turnout for last year’s interactive play. Shepherd said, “We were hoping for 500 audience members last year and were overwhelmed when we sold 800 tickets. This year we decided to have two nights to make sure everyone has room to mingle.”

Murder mystery theater differs from the usual plays in that the audience members spend the first part of the evening moving around the “cruise liner” and talking to the actors. Everyone is then invited to a special talent show featuring the actors; but the show is interrupted by the discovery that one of them has been murdered.

To be one of the first teams to solve the mystery, audience members move all through the theater interrogating the actors and seeking other clues. At the end of the evening, there are prizes for top first-, second- and third-place sleuths.

All of the actors for this production are volunteers who live in the community. According to Shepherd, attendees are excited when they recognize someone they know. This year’s performers include Lin Metzger, David Haines, Leah Hoskins, Chuck Brindle, Glenn Hall, Sarah Kerschner and Justin Keller. Hall has been in every one of the mystery events directed by Shepherd.

Shepherd said, “Many of the teams come from the same business, office or social group for a night out to build relationships.” Other people form groups when they arrive to decide who, why, and how they discovered the person responsible for the “murder.”

Shepherd and the mystery play author, Eileen Morshey, have a unique history. In 1995, Shepherd and a friend were starting a party planning business in Ohio where Morshey lives.

“Very quickly our business evolved to hosting murder mystery events,” said Shepherd.

This weekend’s production is just one of the nearly 100-plus mysteries penned by Morshey.

Tickets can be purchased at www.wagonwheelcenter.org or at the Wagon Wheel box office.