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East High School mystery play serves up bone-chilling screams, scandalous snacks

East High School mystery play serves up bone-chilling screams, scandalous snacks

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Murder's in the Heir

Can you spot the guilty party? In East High School's production of "Murder's in the Heir," literally anybody in the cast could've knocked off ruthless one-percenter Simon Starkweather. The audience got to choose "whodunit" during this interactive show, which was held Friday and Saturday in the school's media center.

SIOUX CITY -- Theatergoers at East High School's production of "Murder's in the Heir" -- performed Friday and Saturday night -- saw the maniacal machinations of 90-year-old Simon Starkweather and his (potentially) murderous brood and a (hateful) house full of servants, who all wanted to see the dastardly one-percenter pushing up daisies.

However, play attendees probably weren't expecting to be served snacks during such a sinister showcase.

Specifically, audiences were given some ominous hors d'oeuvres during the opening act, and were also able to dine at a deadly designated dessert bar during intermission.

According to drama and humanities teacher Marissa Kuiken, "Murder's in the Heir" represented the first time that East's theater students partnered up with the school's ProStart kids.

"I love murder mysteries and I love dinner theater," Kuiken said, during a dress rehearsal. "This show combines a bit of both."

It also meant that she would be collaborating with East's ProStart instructor Carli Kenyon.

ProStart is a national program created by the National Restaurant Association for business or culinary-minded kids wanting to move into the hospitality field.

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"My students created a menu that included deviled eggs, saucy Asian meatballs and some mini lasagna roll-ups for appetizers," Kenyon said. "They also wanted to make raspberry swirl cheesecakes that would mimic the color of blood." 

Pretty spooky, right? That was certainly the case for Jacob Licht, who played the part of Starkweather, who is actually knocked off by the end of Act One.

"I actually didn't mind dying," Licht said. "The old guy probably had it coming to him."

[Read more: Sergeant Bluff-Luton high school students get inside scoop on food industry.]

But who killed Simon?

Kuiken said even the actors weren't clued in on the culprit.

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"The audience actually gets to choose whodunit," she said. "That means the students had to learn nearly 10 different endings of the play because they had to go with the audience's choice."

That was challenging for Sidra Hovde, who played cantankerous cook Minerva Walker.

"When you're in a scene, you do more than just recite lines," she said. "You're engaging with the audience, inviting them to get involved in the action."

This was probably harder for this play, which was being staged at East's media center, instead of the school's auditorium.

"We're used to having an audience's attention," said Whitney Lester, who played no-nonsense housekeeper Bensonhurst. "Here, we're competing with food and making sure we're heard over the sound of silverware."

None of this should be much of a problem since "Murder's in the Heir" -- written by Billy St. John -- is meant to be a farce with plenty of over-the-top acting. 

"My death scene is actually quite funny," Licht said. "I think I can say that without giving too much away."

Hopefully, that won't give Hovde any ideas.

"Personally, I'd never consider murdering anyone," she allowed. "After all, the killer in 'Murder's in the Heir' is caught at the end."

Phew, this is a relief. And it really is just "desserts" for a show that comes catered.

Murder is especially foul on an empty stomach.

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