'Murder at the Retirement Community' to show in February

The Murder Mystery Dinner Theater raises funds for Dickinson Public Schools. The performance features a live action murder mystery play complete with suspects, clues and a shocking end.

Murder mystery
Kyle D’Amato and Troy Kuntz rehearsing their lines on Jan. 5.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Western Edge community members are invited to test their detective skills during performances of “Murder at the Retirement Community” February 2, 3 and 4 at the Roosevelt Grand Dakota. The 17th annual murder mystery dinner theater was organized by the Dickinson Public Schools Foundation.

DPSF Marketing Director Marisa Riesinger said this is their signature event. All proceeds will fund a grant program that supports local teachers.

This year’s play depicts a father and son on a tour of a retirement community. The pair get more than they bargained for when one of the residents suddenly passes away. The cause of death... murder! They enlist senior citizens and staff in an attempt to solve the case, while watching their backs to avoid becoming the next victim.

“It's an interactive play. So the cast will be walking around too, which is really cool,” Reisinger said, adding that guests can get involved in the action. “They're going to listen to the play, find out the clues and get a chance to guess who's the culprit.”

The play was written and directed by Josh Nichols of Dickinson. He has been involved with the dinner theater for 14 years and has written the play for the event for the past four years. He said he began writing the material to provide the audience with a consistently fresh production to look forward to.


“It's been so popular. We didn't want a repeat because we have the same people coming every year so they kind of know what happened before,” Nichols said. “We sort of pick a general theme. One year was pirates, last year was outer space, this year is a retirement community. It struck me as funny that with all the other shows we do, people always have these untimely deaths. And now we're dealing with people who are in their 80s and 90s. So they’re kind of closer to the end than they are the beginning, but yet there’s still a murder involved.”

Volunteer cast members include Jamie Prellwitz, Troy Kuntz, Jesse Kilwein, Elizabeth Tibor, Sarah Ramsey, Todd Selle, Cole Beck and Kyle D’Amato.

“The volunteers that participate in it do an excellent job,” Riesinger said.

Josh Nichols, left, wrote and is directing "Murder at the Retirement Community." Kyle D’Amato and Jamie Prellwitz, right, rehearse for the play Jan. 5.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

A no-host social begins at 6 p.m. followed by the dinner and play at 6:30 p.m. each night. Tickets go on sale Jan. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Roosevelt Grand Dakota in the DeMores room. They are $50 for the Feb. 2 show and $55 for the shows on Feb. 3 and 4. The menu for the event includes salad, a pasta bar with Italian sausage, grilled chicken, alfredo or marinara sauce, sauteed mushrooms and broccoli, breadsticks, cheesecakes and coffee.

Riesinger noted the performance contains some “spicy situations,” and is not recommended for children. Those who attend can expect more than a couple of laughs as the scenes unfold.

“It's funny,” Nichols said. “It becomes funnier, the more you drink. That's why we have it on an evening where people can indulge. It's supposed to be silly fun. This isn't Shakespeare. It's just a goofy play.”

Guests are encouraged to join in on the fun by wearing costumes of their own.

“They're encouraged to wear costumes to be participants in the play since it is interactive, but it's not a requirement,” Riesinger said. “So they can come as they are but they can get into the spirit of murder mystery and dress up as well.”


Prizes will be given for best costumes each night, with a sleuth award to whoever pinpoints the murderer.

“I'm sure we'll get a couple groups of Golden Girls and all kinds of stuff like that,” Nichols said. “A lot of people get really into it. Other people just kind of come for the night and have a good time without having to dress up, but I think it adds a little layer of fun for those who like to do it.”

He and the actors have as much fun as the guests, he said.

“I think once we get together we all just click and it becomes a really enjoyable month and a half,” Nichols said. “They spend at least two hours a night, five nights a week for a month, month and a half. So it's a lot of time to put in just for the heck of it. But I think that not only are they having fun, but they want to support the foundation.”

Elizabeth Tibor
Elizabeth Tibor rehearses for "Murder at the Retirement Community."
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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