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Mystery theater show comes to Potsdam

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POTSDAM - There was a murder in Potsdam Saturday, but nobody seemed to mind.

A room of over 90 dinner-goers was tasked with unraveling the “death” of an eccentric professor at a performance of “Montana Smith and the Curse of the Golden Crocodile,” an interactive murder-mystery dinner performance held at the Potsdam Elks Club.

Tickets to the show benefitted the Dick Murphy/Dalton Guyette Memorial Youth Project, a local fund that provides scholarships to needy children to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.

The cost of the dinner was covered with donations from local sponsers, so ticket prices went straight to the charity. The $35 price tag included dinner and the show.

Event organizer Amy Murphy said she was struck with the idea after watching a similar show at SUNY Potsdam.

“It was so much fun, and I had this big brainstorm to do it as a fundraiser,” she said.

“Montana Smith,” is a story of shifty characters at a prestigious museum trying to get their hands on a cursed treasure, a parody of the “Indiana Jones” series of movies.

The show was presented by five actors, members of the ACME Mystery Company of Syracuse, which has been performing similar shows since 1997.

“The show is playing on two levels,” said company president and actor Robert B. Greene. “If you don’t want to sweat the details, you can just come and enjoy a good comedy.”

The show was told in three acts. The murder occurs at the end of the first, and the second begins after a break for dinner. After the second the audience submitted their theory about who the killer is and why, based on what they have seen and the written clues distributed to tables around the room. In the third act, all is revealed.

The audience is encouraged to get in on the action, and some are given lines to read.

“It’s fantastic,” said Laurie Reynolds, of Waddington.

By the end of the first act her husband, David Reynolds, and his own theory on the possible perpetrator.

“They’re all crazy,” he said.

Actor Mark A. Holt, of Syracuse, has been with ACME for 15 years. On Saturday he played a corrupt mayor who wanted the cursed golden crocodile to himself.

“I find it incredibly rewarding and challenging,” he said. “I love the improvisational aspect.”

The company has been to Potsdam twice before, both to perform for SUNY Potsdam students.

The most important part of an interactive show is the audience, according to acress Tracy S. Martin.

“It’s always different, every audience is different,” she said. “Our audience is our sixth actor and you never know what they are going to do.”

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