Presenting 'Broadway Babylon': Audience helps solve murder mystery during dinner theater

Guests are invited to a surprise birthday party for one of Broadway's biggest stars, Dan Dapper. Before the end of the evening, a murder is committed and the guests help solve the mystery.

Guests are invited to a surprise birthday party for one of Broadway's biggest stars, Dan Dapper. Before the end of the evening, a murder is committed and the guests help solve the mystery.

The Dickinson Public Schools Foundation and the Days Inn-Grand Dakota Lodge are presenting the murder mystery dinner theater titled "Broadway Babylon" on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16-17. The evening starts with a no-host social at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and curtain at 7 p.m.

The audience joins the cast in the glitz and glamour of the rich and eccentric.

"We welcome people to come in the characters they get from their tickets," said director Karen Foster.

The evening includes a gourmet meal, featuring Jamaican pork loin with pineapple-mango salsa, baby reds, sautéed vegetables, Mandarin orange salad, popovers with honey butter and an assortment of cheesecakes served with hazelnut coffee.


The cast is a combination of veteran performers and students. They include Margaret and Pat Barnhart, Katie Herold, Julie Kittelson, Paul Koppinger, Del Quigley, Eve Sticka and Stuart Savelkoul. Assistant director is Laurel Eide. Music is provided by Laura Fehr during rehearsals and Michelle Schock during the performances.

"We have a great cast. They work like an ensemble. I've enjoyed every minute of it," she said.

Quigley plays Ralph Scumbo, whom he described "as a real seedy character in every way you can imagine...anything for a dollar."

"I've directed many plays, but never had a chance to be in them. Now I have the time," he said.

Savelkoul plays the character of Charlie.

"My character is far from the coolest kid in school. He's a bit of a nerd, who stumbles on to this Broadway production while in search of a comic book convention," he said. "He ends up becoming a suspect. He also develops a romance with one of the characters."

"The cast is really diverse. You've got some experience in Del and Margaret and Pat, and then new actors and actresses. It's been fun and it's been definitely a learning experience," he added.

A native of Beulah, Savelkoul performed in various high school and college plays.


Foster is an assistant professor at DSU, teaching composition, American literature and technical writing. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She directed children's theater in Sioux Falls, S.D., and was a guest director for the Lincoln Community Playhouse.

"My basic interest is acting and playwriting. I've written about four plays," she said.

Proceeds from the play help the foundation provide grants to the Dickinson Public Schools.

Foundation director Karen Heidt markets the dinner theater as "the social event of the year."

"We've kept it at this time because it's nice to do something fun and special," she said.

The foundation's mission is to provide private financial support for "unique, challenging innovative projects and programs which enhance education," she said.

"Our main goal is enhancing education. Our main focus is our grant program. We've given over $147,000 away since we formed in 1989," she said.

The money used from the endowment fund is used to fund the grant program and expenses. Monies also are set aside to fund requests of students going to national competitions. The foundation provides a Business Challenge sponsorship and manages the Jack Carlson Memorial Scholarship.


"I'd like to get more scholarships in the future," she said.

Heidt said the foundation is reaching out to DHS graduates through Roughrider Days reunions and class reunions. The foundation is starting an Alumni Association and news letter.

The foundation also is sponsoring an orange and black social with Dickinson High School Athletic Boosters Friday, Feb. 9, after the boys' basketball game at the Elks Sodbuster Lounge.

Tickets are available by calling the Days Inn at 483-5600 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.) The play is not recommended for younger audiences.

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