In 1905 there was a brutal stabbing on a riverboat called The Magnolia Queen. The paddle-wheeler was headed from New Orleans to Memphis when the murder happened to Mr. Benton Thorne IV, a wealthy cotton plantation owner.  Locally in Mesquite, Marianne Johnstone’s cast of actors was solving the case at her mystery dinner party.

This boat ride was filled with all kinds of characters who enjoyed the ambiance of casino gambling and entertainment. They were dressed in classic outfits befitting the times.  These suspects were the captain, Jacques LeBad, played by Caroline Pope;  the widow of the deceased, Rose Thorne, played by Janice Martinez;  the gambler, Marty Graw, played by Carolyn Sorrell;  the burlesque queen from the French Quarter, Candy Barr, played by Jill Faulkner;  the daughter of the deceased and deck hand, Allie Gater, played by Annie Shoell;  and the piano player, Ragtime Joe, played by Fay Blair.  Marianne Johnstone was a riverboat gambler.  The ladies taking part in this event ranged from 42 to 82 years of age.

Barb King, also known as Scarlett Diamond, was the narrator and frequent traveler and gambler on the boat.  She laid out the mysterious background of the murder case and helped  keep the conversations flowing toward an eventual outcome.  Evidence was gathered and questions and answers went back and forth between the characters.

Three guests attended: Kathie Chatlin, Jan Deihl and Eve Mikutowicz.  Photographers were Mike Gill and Vivian McDonald.  Johnstone’s kitchen help included Linda Adams and Louetta Edwards.  Joan Greenhalgh helped prepare some of the Southern cuisine.  Group members attending shared in the planning and also brought various foods and drinks to the gathering.

The play began with  introductions, while mint julep drinks and spicy popcorn snacks were served throughout the First Act.  During the Second Act, after accusations were hurled around, a full meal was served consisting of Chicken Gumbo Soup, Cornbread, Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce and cole slaw.

After everyone had defended himself, absolving him of any crime, it was time for cast members to guess who-dun-it In the Third Act.

As the murderer was revealed by Scarlett, astonishment graced everyone’s face.  A dessert of éclairs was then served to conclude the event.

Would you like to join in with all this fun? Call Marianne to be in the next play for September.  She can be reached at 702-345-4459.

Barb King