Whether you’re an actor, a supporting cast member or more of a behind-the-scenes type of person, St. Louis off
ers plenty of unique dinner theaters sure to leave you with a flavor of something different. We spoke to three of St. Louis’ top
locations that are preparing for spring and summer seasons.
The Bissell Mansion
The Bissell Mansion has been making audiences scream with laughter since May of 1986. According to its general manager, Barb Schepker, Bissell was one of the first locations in the country to provide a murder mystery dinner theater.
At Bissell, guests have the option of being a part of the show and receive a script if so enticed. The play happens in the middle of a four-course dinner and lasts about three hours. Two paid actors keep the play moving along throughout the course of the evening.
Accommodating up to 130 people, if the show gets too full, Bissell will have a set of actors both upstairs and downstairs putting on shows simultaneously.
“We wanted to get some kind of an idea—there were no dinner theaters in St. Louis (back in 1985). There was that need for something like this,” Schepker said. “I had been to places like it, but they had never involved the audience. We gave it a try and it worked so well. Once we became good at it we started seeing dinner theaters pop up in the area.”
Bissell has four different theaters per year, written by the actors and Schepker. “Nursery Crimes” plays through April; “Field of Schemes” plays through July; “Footless” plays through October; and “A Christmas Killing—The Murder of Ebenezer Scrooge” is this year’s Christmas theater.
“It’s a scripted show, so the audience members who want to have parts have about 20 lines per show,” Schepker said. “We try to get an even number of men and women and they read their lines when called upon. We have a prize draw for whoever guesses the ‘killer’ and if nobody guesses there still is a draw.”
Where: 4426 Randall Place in St. Louis, Mo.
More information: To make reservations for your group, call (314) 533-9830, and allow for two weeks in advance. Find out more on the theatre’s website.
The Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn
The Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn has been acting out murder mystery dinners since the early 90s. Manager Matthew Bell said that they were approached by an acting company, and they too wanted to provide something to guests besides just dinner.
Through April, guests will be taken into the town of Mayberry for “Murder in Mayberry; May through July is “Clueless;” August through November is “Dead Like Me;” November through December is “Christmas Show.” Original scripts for each show are written by the acting company, and guests who are willing will get a character part and nametag.
“The person who gets ‘killed’ is usually a villain, s
o everyone who is in the show has a motive—everyone’s a suspect,” Bell said. “A ‘detective’ will come in and solve the play. Usually each show has two actors, but they play multiple characters.”
Fifty people is the max per show, and Lemp can do multiple shows a night. Bell said that each show lasts about three hours. There is a small trophy as a prize for the person who guesses the “killer.” Bell recommends making reservations at least two weeks in advance.
Where: 3322 De
Menil Place in St. Louis, Mo.
More information: To make reservations, call (314) 664-8024. Find out more on the Lemp Mansion’s website.
The Royal Dumpe
For those people looking for less murder and more Renaissance, The Royal Dumpe is a dinner theater that is celebrating its 40th year in St. Louis. Having been housed in multiple St. Louis locations, including the Cheshire Inn, the Royal Dumpe has found a home on the Landing. It has been at its Second Street location for 12 years.
Show producer Jim Danek said that the same show runs throughout the year, with a Christmas production as a change over the holidays.
“We change the music and the
place is decorated. No one does the 12 Days of Christmas song like we do,” Danek said.
The show includes King Henry VIII and his “serving wenches” who serve the food and drink and provide the evening’s entertainment. The night of “Medieval Madness” travels back into 16th century England, and Danek said that it’s a night of great, great fun. Audience cap
acity is huge: 225 is the maximum.
“We use five to six people from the audience and have them participate. After dinner we have people who are celebrating birthdays or anniversaries come up on stage,” Danek said.
The Royal Dumpe’s bu
sy season is similar to the regular theatrical season in St. Louis, and Danek also recommends making reservations at least two weeks ahead of time.
Where: 809 N. Second Street in St. Louis, Mo.
More information: To go back in time for a night of Renaissance fun, call the Royal Dumpe’s booking maiden at (314) 621-5800. Find out more on The Royal Dumpe website.
d we leave a fantastic place off the list? Let us know.