Whitehall-Coplay Press

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Your ‘Mission’ is to read this theater review

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 by CAROLE GORNEY Special to The Press in Focus

The mission, if you choose to accept it, is to eat, drink and solve a murder before dessert is served.

That’s the assignment at the Pines Dinner Theatre, where through March 7, “Mission: Improbable: Super Spy Edition” (aka “Impossible,” as in the TV series and movies) is challenging audiences to follow the clues to find out “whodunit” from among the suspects on and off stage.

During the Jan. 25 “murder investigation,” aka, performance, witnessed and reviewed by this theater sleuth, several clues were uncovered.

First clue: “Mission Improbable: Super Spy Edition” was written and produced by Pines Dinner Theatre Artistic Director Oliver Blatt, who has been responsible for just about every action on the Pines stage for the past 10 years. Despite being a playwright with a sense of humor, he is definitely a prime suspect.

Second clue: The script identified an excess of suspicious characters from among the cast and very suspicious audience.

Third clue: The murder victim, accused of being a jewel thief, was hanging out in the audience, pretending to be a theater patron. He definitely was no actor because he had trouble dying and staying dead.

Fourth clue: Four actors assumed the identities of fictitious persons, but this reviewer learned their true identities from a whistleblower posing as a waitress.

The two argumentative “Mission” operatives, suave Ethan Hunt and featherbrained Jim Phelps, were really Gene Connelly and Jeremy Thompson.

Each argued with the other over who was the real star of “Mission Impossible,” which ran on television 1966-1973 with Phelps, and became a successful series of six movies 1996-2018, featuring Hunt.

Fifth clue: Agent Phelps was on a mission to return the elusive Princess Isabella to Monaco. Yes, her feisty highness (Syd Stauffer) joined the cast attired in a bright red gown sans jewelry that had already been stolen.

James Ofalt was listed in the cast, but what character or characters he played is still a mystery.

Sixth clue: Everyone in the theater was a suspect, including audience members posing as Judge Judy and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

Final clue: Nothing was as it appeared, and no one was who he or she should be.

“Mission Improbable” isn’t a very complex mystery, but it is engaging. The audience enjoyed being part of the action, up close and personal. The laughter said it all.

The cast includes, in addition to Connelly, Thompson, Stauffer and Ofait: Mark Ingram, Cheryl Moritz and Alexander Vogelgesang.

Note to reader: “This review will self-destruct in five seconds.”

Tickets: Pines Dinner Theatre box office, 448 N. 17th St., Allentown; pinesdinnertheatre.com; 610-433-2333