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Casting the Die

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Out at the city's hottest disco club, you're just hoping to meet that right someone and envelop yourself in the camp and excess of the 1970s. But there's a problem: The disco virtuoso who was about to debut her newest showstopper has been flattened in her dressing room by an exploding disco ball.

Not your typical Wednesday evening? It is for the Spaghetti Warehouse in the Flats during its Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. Local improv troupe Something Dada has teamed with writer and producer Andrea Galabinski to serve up a bit of murder in The Deadly Demise of the Disco Diva at the Italian eatery. Sip on a brewski, lap up the pasta, croon to a sing-along, and point to the nearest player decked out in bell-bottoms and purple boa and yell "Murderer!"

"People really get involved," says Heather Stout, who plays Gloria Graysnore, the sultry -- and still-breathing -- second diva. "They'll accuse you. They get angry, they get wired and excited, they clap, they laugh -- they have a really fun time."

Everyone gets to watch the disco dudes play the blame game in order to clear their names: the nightclub owner, the country's number-two disco diva, the world's most obsessed fan, and the nightclub's hottest dancer. Visiting San Francisco Inspector Walter Woo attempts to put an end to the whodunit, but the vacationing dick is having trouble with the English language (and that ominous letter "L"), so he's looking for a little help himself. Luckily, clues have been planted at each table to get the audience started, and the production encourages the viewers to travel to fellow sleuths' tables and gather as much information as possible.

"They run from table to table, and they snarl at their friends if they try to look at their notes," Galabinski says. "I enjoy sitting back and watching my audience as much as they like watching us."

Except when the improv doesn't hit. At times it's painful, obvious, and embarrassing in the wrong way -- unlike Russel Stich, who plays Travolta spoof and dancer Johnny Revolta with so much intentional embarrassment you'll laugh pasta through your nose.

But don't get too caught up when Revolta pleads with an audience member to "shake your ass!" If you want to solve this disco thriller, you have to pay attention to the details and interrogate the closest suspects with Saturday night fever, or you'll be eating a bit of red herring for dinner.

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