The strip of Yonge St between Davisville and Eglinton may be only a short hike from the forests of David Balfour Park, where gays frolic in the sun or under cover of night, but -- until now -- the cultural gap has been huge. Sauntering down the stairs of the Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre is like descending back in time to a '40s supper club left untouched, or an amazing replica thereof. Linens, pseudo-art-deco flourishes and a palm tree bedecked in twinkle lights set the scene. Beneath the tree is a glistening grand piano, and it is there that gay culture arrives to add a new flavour to the mix.
Apprentice to Murder . . . You're Fired
is an interactive murder mystery based -- loosely and campily -- on the reality show Celebrity Apprentice
. Celebrities are satirized -- Joan Rivets (seen below canoodling with fab
's own Paul Bellini -- sometimes the show got very
interactive), Lindsay Lowest, Gary Boozy, et cetera, but the real butt of the somewhat hoary jokes (which drew either raucous guffaws or groans -- if your tolerance for bad puns is low, this show is not for you) are targets closer to home: Rob Ford, Scarborough, subways and, somewhat disturbingly, the transgender Miss Universe contestant.
The best lines go to Brigette Solem as "Sue Polyester," whose cheerleading advice and snarky putdowns are quite tasty. The worst lines go to a lazy parody of Lady Gaga's arty obfuscation, though when Kimberly Persona parks her elaborate -- and dangerous-looking -- costume behind the baby grand, her vocal impersonation partially redeems.
The characters arrive as the meal is finishing and at first are just a distraction -- the food is a solid cut above standard dinner theatre fare, though mildly spiced for an establishment that promotes and sells the hot sauce created by executive chef Rossy Earle. Having a Regis Philbin (Danny Wengle) impersonator glad-hand while I'm trying to enjoy a "Trump Triple Threat Brownie" is a flavour combination that is new to my palate. The performers are supposed to drop clues while they flit -- or in Barb Schefflir's case, as Lindsay Lowest, stumble -- from table to table. Alas, none of us is Miss Marple, and Sue Polyester is quick to deny any sapphic intentions with Ms Lowest, using a very bizarre hand gesture to illustrate the scissoring that is not happening. And when we try to promote one of our table companions as the murderer -- he does bear a resemblance to Justin Bieber -- our table is given a polite berth. No problem -- the other tables are whooping it up and having a great time being part of the show and shouting the lines that the performers have somehow cajoled them into reciting (the fourth wall collapses often and to great hilarity as the actors step out of character to critique audience members' line readings). As our gay/downtown sophistication fades amidst the barrage of Borsch Belt gags, we relax and enjoy the ambiance and administrations of our very charming server, who could easily have been specifically cast for her role. When the murderer is revealed, none of our table has guessed -- I mean deduced -- correctly, leaving us out of the running for the swag. In hindsight the clues were very carefully laid out and straightforward, and we are deeply embarassed, as any amateur Jessica Fletcher should have solved it correctly.
Now to test out the Mysteriously Yours company's sure-to-be even gayer Murder at Twilight
based -- loosely and campily, I presume -- on True Blood
Apprentice to Murder . . . You're Fired runs Thursday to Saturday at the Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre, 2026 Yonge St. mysteriouslyyours.com