Wega Arts is bringing mystery, music and dinner back to the Gerold Opera House when it presents “Secrets of the Dead” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30; Friday, Oct. 31; and Saturday, Nov. 1.
Last year, the nonprofit presented “Tommy G’s,” an interactive dinner theater effort.
Kathy Fehl, the organization’s artistic director, is the author of this year’s immersion dinner theater event.
She is a veteran playwright and filmmaker with New York theater experience as a writer, director and producer.
Fehl said her work is a “romantic mystery drama dedicated to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote ‘Sherlock Holmes.'”
Set in 1917, “Secrets of the Dead” will include seances, spirts and ghosts, said Ian Teal, executive director of Wega Arts.
“There will be some audience participation,” Fehl said.
Teal described the show’s structure as musical mystery dinner theater.
“It has a mystery story with songs and music interspersed throughout,” he said.
Tickets for the dinner and show are $25 in advance and available online at wegaarts.org and also at The Coffee Klatsch in Weyauwega and The Book Cellar in Waupaca.
Tickets are $30 at the door.
The audience is encouraged to come in costume.
Laila Salins, who Fehl said is “one of my oldest friends,” will handle the lead role.
Salins has sung leading roles with the Zurich Opera, Music Theater Group (New York), the Latvian National Opera, Opera Factory Zurich, the New Riga Theater and Connecticut Grand Opera. She has given recitals throughout Europe, Australia and North America.
Craig Anthony Knitt, of Marion, will take the role opposite Salins. He will portray the town’s mayor.
Knitt is one of the founders and directors of Appleton’s annual Wildwood Film Festival. He is an award winning filmmaker, garnering an Artistic Achievement Award from the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
“I’ve been an art teacher, filmmaker, improviser my entire life,” he said.
Knitt said he has made hundreds of short films and helped on about 10 feature films.
He is currently a graphic arts teacher at the Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay. he has taught improv workshops throughout the state.
Also part of the cast is Anna Kirk.
The Waupaca native is a graduate of Viterbo University in La Crosse. She participated in the Waupaca High School musicals and continues to sing, recently seen on stage in last summer’s Waupaca Community Theater production of “The Music Man.”
Sabrina Loehrke, a senior at Weyauwega-Fremont High School, is the set designer.
She also worked with Wega Arts during last spring’s One Act Play Festival.
Pianist Larry Rothbard is also joining Wega Arts again for the upcoming event.
He received his formal musical training at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, with additional study at UW-Madison. He has spent the past several years as the unofficial artist-in-residence with the choral and theatre programs in the Weyauwega-Fremont public schools.
Rothbard has music directed and performed shows throughout the United States and Canada.
He has been a minor league baseball and hockey stadium organist, polka band tuba player, instrumental and vocal music arranger, educator and musical consultant.
A Chicago native and resident, Rothband currently serves as music director of Hamid Circus, Inc., of Atlantic City; studio pianist at Visceral Dance Center in Chicago; and music director/music improv instructor at Comedy Shrine Theater in Aurora, Illinois.
In addition to Rothband, members of the Weyauwega-Fremont High School Band will provide part of the music.
The Gerold Opera House is located at 136 E. Main St., in downtown Weyauwega.