HOUSTON • The Houston Council for the Arts (HCA), a new non-profit set up to produce and promote arts and cultural events in Houston and Western Chickasaw County has announced their first fundraiser for 2020: a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater event to be held at Donald Lee’s Downtown on Saturday, Feb. 15. Proceeds from the event will be used to begin renovations on the old theater, formerly Pappas Pizza, purchased by the city this past summer.

A mystery dinner is a popular type of dinner theater in which the play is a murder mystery, and the diners are invited to solve the mystery as they eat and watch the play. In this event, there will be no separate stage from the eating area; instead, the actors are mixed in with the diners – and often improvise dialog with diners – to create a more immersive atmosphere. Organizers have hired a professional acting troupe, The Detectives Comedy Dinner Theater, out of Jackson for this event.

The group was suggested by HCA member and City Alderwoman, Kellie Atkinson, who has attended events such as this in Starkville.

“It’s such a fun way for friends to spend a couple of hours,” said Atkinson. “There’ll be comedy, you get to solve a mystery with your friends and Don has a great menu planned for the night…and, we’re raising money for a new arts center. It will be a great event for our little town,”

The dinner will include a starter, an appetizer, an entrée and dessert, plus non-alcoholic beverages. Beer and wine may be purchased separately. Prior to each show there will be a “Piano Bar” experience with a cash bar at the new CDF headquarters (formerly Regions Bank) just down the street.

“We’re very excited to help bring the arts back to Houston,” says Sean Johnson, HCA member and Director of the Chickasaw Development Foundation. “Developing quality cultural events is key to increasing regional interest in our community. This event, along with other events that are being planned, will immediately impact our arts environment while paving the way to greater improvements with the renovation of the theater.”

The new downtown sidewalk project, the recent announcement of ten-week Levitt AMP outdoor concert series at Legion Lake and the renovation of the theater all point to 2020 being a banner year for arts and culture Houston.

HCA member, Janet Coker, who is helping to organize this event, is looking forward to producing other events in Houston to get the arts back on track.

“There are so many talented people in Houston and we’re looking forward to bringing back plays and musicals and other cultural events to our wonderful community.”

There will be two seatings for the Comedy Murder Mystery Dinner: one at 5 p.m. and one at 8 p.m., with only 50 tickets available for each show.

The organizers say that tickets to these types of events generally sell out quickly.

Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased online with a credit/debit card on Eventbrite or the Houston Council of the Arts Facebook page or can be purchased by cash or check by contacting Sean Johnson at 662-316-9557.

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