Everyone who walks in is a suspect.
Because at Shadows Interactive Dinner Theater, which recently opened in downtown Macon, every Friday night is an interactive mystery event.
“When you walk in the door you get an envelope,” explained Jacqueline Akins, who is the visionary behind this new venture. “Inside the envelope is a badge. You become that character all night long.”
Along with the badge is a character description. As guests enter the theater, they receive their envelope and spend time mixing and mingling. There are plenty of costumes and dressing rooms for people to change. There are costumes and props available. The script clues each person in on who to walk up to and what to say.
“What you are doing is stirring up controversy,” she continued. “So everybody walks in as a suspect.”
There are three acts. Mingling and becoming acquainted with one’s character comprises the first act. At the beginning of the second act, everyone trades in their ticket for dinner. It is at this point when someone finds out they are the victim and someone else finds out they are the villain. No one else knows the identity of either. When a person is informed they are that night’s victim, they are given a set of instructions about what actions to take during the second act. The third act contains the reveal and the resolution.
Akins uses the mingling session, and games in between acts, to identify those whom she thinks will embrace the acting portion of the evening. She pulls them aside and gives them instructions on what to do at different points in the evening. She may tell someone to pretend to sneak into the house while another guest pretends to sleep on the sofa. She might guide someone to steal something from the staging area. She directs the action with the audience as her actors. It’s a fascinating approach to theater and something exciting for the Macon theater scene.
“Some of them will take it to a whole other level,” she quipped. “But it helps, and it’s so much fun.”
Akins believes her target audience is an older, more mature crowd — couples and businesspeople who might not regularly come downtown for the bars and nightclubs. She wants to offer something amusing and different and, she explained, she’s here to stay. In fact, the theater’s web address is LongLiveShadows.com, making clear her intent to build her business into a popular venue for entertainment downtown.
While the Friday night mystery parties are a marvelous component, Shadows is diversified in its offerings. On Thursdays, the theater hosts open mic nights for poets, musicians, comics and writers. On Saturdays, they currently offer specially-designed mystery parties for families, friends or office parties.
In her quest to be “here to stay,” Akins continues to explore concepts such as scavenger hunts and game nights at the theater. She says will never cease to try new and fun concepts, keeping what works and getting rid of what doesn’t. By relying on feedback and results to direct future offerings, Akins may have found the key to making her moniker, “Long Live Shadows,” a reality.