By Barb King
Want to have some fun ? Try going to this kind of party on New Year’s Eve. For many years, Marianne Johnstone has been hosting plays in her home with many of her friends.
To celebrate on December 31, 2014, she chose “Bullets ‘N’ Barbeque”, set in the small town of Drygulch on the Western Frontier in the year 1872. This play is a typical “who-dun-it “ mystery, where, in this case, the sheriff is found dead of a gunshot wound.
Most of Marianne’s guests arrived after 8:30 PM. They were either partly attired or they gathered items provided to add to their characterizations. Four of them needed fake mustaches. Others made use of a bonnet, Western hats, a medicine bag, a whiskey flask, a badge, a gun, a rifle, gloves, an umbrella, vests, feathers, necklaces and other assorted props.
A narrator, in this case Jasper Mc Coy, played by Susan Rango, laid the groundwork for the plot. The cast consisted of such characters as a gambler, a doctor, a Mexican bandit, an entertainer, an English lady, a school marm and a mail-order bride.
There were Three Acts, during which time each character questioned the others with accusations as to why each of them could be the killer. Of course, no one wants to admit that he or she could be the culprit. The script allows for “gasps and groans” like in the old-time melodramas, and for ad-lib lines, which are hilarious.
Mrs. Johnstone served as the waitress and poured mugs of ginger ale. After introductions by the cast members and general thickening of the plot, it was time for the first course of the meal. Food consisted of a smoky cheese ball to spread on crackers, little smokie sausages, cheese sticks, assorted veggie tray, pineapple and strawberries with a glaze dip, and potato salad.
Then the plot thickened, and accusations flew. The murderer could have been any of us. We got to vote on who we thought did it. Was it the old-fashioned town doctor, also a quack, played by Dennis Barrett; the sweet, proper school marm who was once engaged to the sheriff, played by Connie Barrett; the English lady who arrived as a mail-order bride for the sheriff, played by Peggy Bulbulian; the outlaw played by Margaret Wallace; the gambler played by Ron Bulbulian; or the saloon girl played by Barb King?
It turns out, they all got votes.
Everyone denied being the killer. This cast of actors was as fine a group as I have ever seen, after having participated in many of these mystery plays. Eventually the mystery was solved and the event was topped-off with dessert. Because two members of the group had birthdays, cookies and cupcakes were served for their celebration.
As the clock was approaching midnight, everyone donned hats and headbands, blew horns and drank sparkling apple and grape drink to welcome in the countdown on TV to the New Year. We all made our favorite toasts to 2015. I recommend that everyone try this unforgettable type of celebration on this very special night of the year.