Niles Welch, Dan Remaks, Beth Olliges, Faith Matthews Müller, John Trueblood, Jessica Vautard, & Jason Bearden in The Shadow Messenger. Photo: WhoDunnit

The Shadow Messenger 

Written and Directed by Ann S. Waterman

A review by Regina Harris

Entire contents are copyright @ 2024 by Regina Harris. All rights reserved. 

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1875. It’s winter and very, very cold. Our Cambridge is a town populated by immigrants and their descendants, all of whom have interesting backstories. People are born, live, and die as they always do; but two deaths in particular catch the attention of the town busybody, Mrs. Maeve Malloy. While they seem ordinary deaths on the surface, each of the deceased had received an odd letter before their deaths – and more have been delivered. Mrs. Molloy detects something fishy, and she needs our help unraveling the mystery if lives are to be saved. 

WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre of Louisville’s latest offering (and world premiere) is replete with a cast of stock characters whose stories are different but somehow connected. Staged in a large dining room of the Bristol Bar and Grille on Main Street, the characters introduced themselves to the audience and gossiped a little about each other. While the room was comfortable enough for dinner and a play, hearing dialog was an occasional problem due to ambient noise, and heaven forbid an important clue might be missed. Not to be deterred however, my husband and I (neither having ever experienced mystery theatre before) intently observed like Sherlock, taking copious notes and asking all the right questions like Liz Danvers. All fears my husband had about being forced to get up and participate were quelled as each of the characters visited each table, answering our questions while tightly keeping their secrets. 

Local stage veteran, Beth Olliges, was pitch perfect as Mrs. Maeve Molloy, the busybody you want to sit next to at a tea (or cocktail) party and dish. Faith Matthews Müller kept an icy distance as high society maven, Amelia Wainwright.. Her societal opposite, Miss Leah Klehn (cast alternate Jessica Vautard) delighted as the young “rags to riches” ladies’ wear business owner. She artfully dodged my incisive questions by flirtatiously entreating my husband to buy me something frilly at her shop. The remaining cast dished up convincing performances as locals who might be the next victim –  or the killer.

In all, our first taste of mystery dinner theatre was great fun. More than a few special occasion parties were in attendance Saturday night adding to the festive atmosphere. As one who enjoys good food and theatre, it was the perfect evening date-night fare.

Featuring Jason Beardon, Faith Matthews Müller, Beth Olliges, Dan Remaks, Kitty Timbers, John Trueblood, and Niles Welch; and alternates Jacob Arnold, Anna Francis, Graham Troop, and Jessica Vautard.

The Shadow Messenger

Saturday evenings, February 17 – March 23, 2024.
Check-in is at 6:30 pm, and Dinner service is at 7:00 pm

Whodunnit Murder Mystery Theater
The Bristol Bar and Grille Downtown
614 Main Street #1000
Louisville, KY 40202

Regina Harris has lived in Louisville for nearly three decades and has worked for many of its theatre companies and venues in various capacities. She holds a degree in Humanities from the University of Louisville and currently works as a Youth Development Specialist at United Crescent Hill Ministries. To express her love for great food, as well as Louisville history and architecture, she is a guide with Louisville Food Tours.