ORLANDO – If diversification is the key to helping businesses growth and thrive, then a dinner theater in Central Florida may be setting an example for all live stage shows.
“I don’t know if people are aware of how much stuff is going on under our roof,” said Laurel Clark, executive director of the Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Theatre on International Drive.
Known as the place where someone gets killed every night, Sleuth’s has 10 different shows in three theaters, and is open 370 days a year.
Ongoing shows have included “Lord Mansfield’s Fox Hunt Banquet,” “Kim and Scott Tie The Knot,” “Squires Inn,” and “Roast ’em and Toast ’em,” and the shows come with a meal. Before the shows begin, guests get a salad, assorted crackers with a cheese spread, dinner rolls and hot and cold hors d’oeuvres.
The meal during the show includes a choice between honey-glazed Cornish game hen, prime rib dinner or four cheese lasagna. Drinks include everything from soda, iced tea and coffee to Bud Light, Budweiser, White Zinfindel, Chablis, and Merlot.
It’s a two and a half hour show with food and drink.
“We have a different murder mystery every night of the year,” said Ben Wavell, Sleuth’s former sales manager. “We kill someone every night. It’s been a lot of fun.”
“You can always come and see something offbeat at Sleuth’s, and I don’t think people know about that,” Clark said.
But now Sleuth’s is expanding its offerings. Fans of late night comedy can visit Sleuth’s on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for Mama’s Comedy Club, an interactive improv show which has been extended indefinitely at Sleuth’s.
Kevin White hosts “Stand Up Comedy” on Saturday nights, and tomorrow night, Sleuth’s is hosting the premiere of Yasmina Reza’s French play “Art,” which is being produced by the Random Magic Theatre Co.
“ ‘Art’ is running this weekend,” Clark said.
As if all that wasn’t enough, “Come summer, and only in the summertime now, we’ll have our Baker Street Detective School,” Clark said. “It’s one of the funniest kids shows, and it’s a little bit of a mystery for kids.”
Another change is that Sleuth’s now has a kid’s menu for the young ones who don’t like prime rib or Cornish game hen.
“We never had kid’s food before,” Clark said. “Now we can offer it at night,” including a serving or macaroni and cheese or chicken tenders.
Clark said Sleuth’s has endured, despite some rocky times that have in the passt decade that have presented a major challenge to the region’s lucrative tourism industry. That includes the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, which led to an unprecedented shutdown of the nation’s air space to boost security measures. That meant the local tourism industry had to rely heavily on the “drive-through” market, or people who drive to the region from neighboring states or other parts of Florida.
An even bigger challenge, she said, was the busy hurricane season in 2004, when three hurricanes struck Central Florida in August and September.
“It took about a year of there being no hurricanes in Florida to get people back,” Clark said.
Of course, the national recession also took a toll on the tourism industry in 2009, but Clark said the opening of the Wizardening World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios Orlando last June brought a lot of visitors to this region, and Sleuth’s bounced back in 2010.
In 2011, she added, Sleuth’s plans to continue to tap into the diverse acting talent across Central Florida, and present a wide variety of comedy and mystery shows.
Sleuth’s is at 8267 International Drive, and there’s plenty of parking available. To learn more, call 407-363-1985 or log on to www.sleuths.com.
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