Arts & Entertainment

Play review: 'Howard Johnson's' dinner theater is a welcome hit

If opening weekend was any indication, Tri-City theater buffs are welcoming back dinner theater with open arms.

Murder at the Howard Johnson's, the premiere show of Broken Leg Entertainment, played to nearly full houses Oct. 3-4 at the Red Lion in Kennewick.

Three talented actors portrayed three silly, bumbling characters who tried ineffectively to murder one another.

The evening provided everything good dinner theater should: a decent meal, a funny script and good actors who brought it to life.

Steve Montgomery is comically believable in his role as Paul, the shunned husband. Katrina Carlson plays Paul's wife Arlene, the beautiful airhead for whom two men risk their lives.

And, Tim Harris plays Mitch, the shunned dentist lover who does a bit with Novocain that has to be seen to be appreciated.

Harris is over the top in his demanding role as director and actor. His costumes and hip presence will take you back instantly to the disco scene.

Montgomery is his antithesis in many ways, sharing insights about marriage that had audience members nearly rolling in the aisles.

Carlson skillfully alternated between pouty, beautiful and sexy as she manipulated the men in her life.

As director, Harris did an outstanding job of finding the sight gags and humor in every aspect of this play, which is no easy task when one is on both sides of the footlights.

Set designer Mary Roe provided the perfect backdrop for the antics, and Carlson provided costumes that were an unexpected highlight to the show.

Nick Wagoner also did an amazing job with sound effects and lighting.

Kudos to the Red Lion in Kennewick for a tasty buffet selection with outstanding desserts. And a big thank you to Broken Leg Entertainment, created by Harris and Montgomery, for bringing back an entertainment form that has long been missed in this growing community.

Judging from the opening weekend, we'll see more dinner theater from Broken Leg Entertainment.

*Ginny Quinley is a tenured drama instructor at Columbia Basin College and has directed many plays in the Tri-Cities.