The lights across the bay glistened beautifully, giving way to a beautiful view as attendees poured into the quaint event space at The Social Bar and Grill. The ongoing event, “Murder By Merlot” allowed Tacomans the chance to crack a fictional criminal case — one where familial history runs deep and almost every character has somewhat of a motive. After an appetizing four-course meal, an entertaining interactive performance, and a chance to solve a fictional murder, it’s safe to say that an evening was absolutely unforgettable.

“I had no clue what I was getting into when I walked into The Social for the murder mystery event,” event attendee Isaiah Rivera said, “But [I] was happy to later find out that my night would be full of laughter, suspense, and a good four course meal to go with it. I will definitely go again!”

The Tacoma Little Theatre’s “Murder by Merlot” centers itself around the Frudee family — fictional winemakers who are broadcasting a wine tasting event in which attendees are the audience members. The Frudee family tree consists of co-owners Prudy and her husband Rudy, Doodie and his wife Trudy, and wine engineer Dr. Judy. Trouble brews after attendees discover that an outsider will be in attendance, wine critic Dr. William Beabore, who has continuously described the Frudee family wines as “musty and skunky.” Things get even more interesting as one of the characters is mysteriously murdered by the hands of someone in the room. As the story unfolds, attendees must listen for any cue that may lead them to guessing the true merlot murderer.

Could it be Judy Frudee the winemaker? Or perhaps Doodie Frudee had something to do with the crime?

The flow of the event was executed quite well, where the actors performed in between courses,  which allowinged for discussion amongst tables during meals. Guests were treated to a in a four-course meal provided by The Social Bar and Grill with varying meal options, including,  zucchini ‘pasta’, salmon, ahi wontons, vegetarian-friendly options, and tangerine-cranberry sorbet. Guests were also offered a variety of beverages — although, most guests opted for the merlot.

By the arrival of the tangerine gelato, in-depth conversations filled the room as each attendee carefully analyzed the crime at hand. Relying on group deliberation and collaboration as well as reflection on the night’s events, attendees recorded their guesses as to who the murderer was, with extra points were allotted for any clues or giveaways listed in support of your claim. As the actors appeared for the last time, Tacoma Little Theatre’s Office Manager and host for the evening Karen Christensen, awarded certificates to the two guests who tied not only for choosing the correct killer, but also listing the most clues.

“Murder by Merlot” is certainly something different —  a unique and interactive experience unlike most currently offered in Tacoma. Attendees are encouraged to put their detective hats on and be observant of each character’s behavior. This fresh and entertaining event is well worth the $55 price tag, which includes the actual show accompanied by the four-course meal and beverages. Be on the lookout for the second performance of “Murder by Merlot” which is returning to Tacoma in May this year.

Alex Alderman
Alex Alderman

Alex is studying sustainable urban development. She loves going to events around Tacoma and telling people about them. Her goal is to use her degree to make cities more sustainable.

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