The scenario is simple: a man was murdered back in the Roaring ’20s, when the fictional cafe was a speakeasy. A descendant, two generations later, hires a psychic to find out who did it.
Joe Prussac from Bayonne has been running the DOA Mysteries Dinner Theater Company for about two years, although he had the idea in the back of his head for years before this.
Until recently, his company performed the mystery dinners for private parties or corporations. But he said he wanted to reach out to the public, and said he found Chris’ Corner was a good venue.
“Chris’ Corner is the perfect place.” – Joe Prussac
He said this is a very popular format. The dinner play has only three professional actors, the rest of the characters – including possibly the murderer – are selected from audience volunteers.
The situation is very similar to a game called “Clue,” and 10 to 15 members of the audience are given slips of people with the details of their characters and the plot.
Then, the detective starts to interview everybody in an attempt to uncover the culprit.
After the initial situation, there is a break for food, and then the tale goes on, with another break for dessert before awards for best actor and actress are given out.
Prussac said there is a lot of improv, but the audience is asked to try to stick with the plot. The play is also PG-rated and family friendly, he said.
Prussac majored in theater in Seton Hall, and later did a number of plays, appeared in several films, and acted in mystery theater. He performed locally with the Attic Ensemble in Jersey City, and will appear in a minor role in a new movie called “New Year’s Eve,” which naturally premieres on New Year’s Eve, and features Jon Bon Jovi in a lead role.
Supper and suspense
Michael Brown plays the psychic in the mystery theater performance, who calls up the ghost of the man killed in the past.
Bob Smith plays one of the lead characters, Knuckles Thompson III, who is looking to find out what happened to his grandfather in 1926. Smith has had the distinction of appearing on the “Gong Show,” tying Pee Wee Herman for first place in the late 1970s.
Called “Mind Over Murder,” the performance is already booked for a second show.
With the room holding about 100 people, and 12 of these involved, most people who come to the event will simply be observers, entertained by the amusing mystery as they dine on good food.
The show and dinner costs $45 per person with a cash bar.
Chris’ Corner was actually never a speakeasy. The family took over the site and constructed the building after operating a food concession stand at the famous Uncle Milty’s Amusement Park, which stood a few blocks from the current location. It has the distinction of being the oldest restaurant in Bayonne run by the same family.
The meals offered will include salad, chicken marsala, orchietta pasta with broccoli rabe and sauce, fillet orestanta, rigatone alavolka, sausage pepper, soda, and a dessert.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., but people can come early for the cash bar if they wish. Elizabeth Sestito-Hussey said the restaurant is trying to develop more public events, including a piano lounge performer that sings classic oldies, such as Frank Sinatra songs.
Chris’ Corner is one of the few venues left in Bayonne that has a room that can accommodate larger parties for weddings, birthdays, and other social functions – which is where the performances will take place.
The first show will be on Oct. 15, and because of popular demand, a second show has been added on Oct. 29.
To make reservations, or for more information, call (201) 436-8181.