Stay tuned for an announcement for the 2018 Mystery Dinner Theatre at Wilderness Road State Park.
After a short hiatus, the extremely popular Mystery Dinner Theatre made a dramatic return in 2015 with an all-new production: WHISPERS ~ Secrets of the Ely Mansion, featuring colorful characters offering a unique twist on the history of the Ely (Karlan) Mansion. The Mystery Dinner Theatre is one of the most requested events the park hosts.
Guests are invited to dinner at Karlan Mansion for a tongue-in-cheek mystery, complete with a three-course meal, served by the actors. The story unfolds as colorful characters lead the audience through three acts of fun, confusion and discovery. The cast is made up of park staff, Friends members and volunteers. All the action takes place around the dinner guests who by the third act will be invited to try to solve the mystery. Advanced tickets are required for this unique event due to heavy demand and limited seating. The play is an original production, written exclusively for Wilderness Road State Park.
HISTORY BEHIND "WHISPERS" - The subject for a new script began to shift in order to create a performance that focused on the historical elements surrounding one of the park’s icons. This prompted a new idea by the park’s then concessions manager Mike Brindle, who tapped into the rich history the park has to offer, and came up with a script based on the Ely family who are responsible for building what is now known as the Karlan Mansion. The essence of the loyal commitment Robert had for his family is evident when studying the history of this old home. Even the brick was made by hand using the clay found on the farm. It was truly a labor of love. Based on that very foundation, WHISPERS ~ Secrets of the Ely Mansion was born
A good friend of Brindle’s, Carolyn Hughes, wrote and directed the park’s first dinner theatre, which was successful beyond imagination. Brindle soaked in as much information from her as he could, and leaning on his experience from the first play, he took pen to paper to come up with the original script that offers a unique perspective to Elydale. Whispers opened with its debut performance on March 19, 2015 to a standing ovation and rave reviews. During its run, Whispers would become the largest revenue generating event in the park’s history.
Following a very successful run, the park offered up a second serving of WHISPERS in 2016 with a slightly different script, revealing a new mystery. Once again, the shows all sold out, with new customers raving over the performances while returning customers loved the new twist added to the show.
HISTORY BEHIND "A WHALE OF A TALE" - In 2017, the park went back in time to resurrect a script that had been started back in 2013. This script featured a band of pirates in a tavern with an emphasis on comedy. Brindle once again took pen to paper to rework and finish the first part of the script he started in 2013, then added two more acts to complete it. A WHALE OF A TALE - Pirates of the Salty Dog featured a familiar cast with nearly everyone from WHISPERS returning to comprise new roles. Brindle, Shawn Williams and Crystal Kirk starred as the band of pirates, with Bonnie Banks and Donna Long portraying Tavern maids. Michael Bonaventura played the tavern owner and bartender while brother Matthew Bonavenura drew rave reviews as pirate want to be, Tad. The only newcomer to the dinner theatre was park nature interpreter Jesse Henderson who portrayed the dark and mysterious Titus Fisher.
The pirate themed dinner theatre highlighted various areas and history throughout Virginia. A WHALE OF A TALE sold out in record time.
"I have been to the park for the Candlelight Ghost Tour and the Mystery Dinner Theatre. I just love these events, I wish they could have them once a month." - Ginger Sullivan
"I have watched this park grow so much over the past 10-12 years. I really enjoy the Heritage Festival and listening to all the Bluegrass bands. And the Wilderness Road Trail is perfect for walking and riding your bicycle." - Janice Lowe
"My kids love to stop by and see the Buffalo. It's so nice to have these facilities right here in our region. The kids love the playground and the Junior Rangers program. And the Indian Ridge Trail is a great location to see some of our area's prettiest wildflowers." - Melissa Jackson