Couple kills onstage with musical murdersWritten by David J. Coehrs | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynda Whiting and David Fioritto have one of the most interesting and enjoyable jobs around.
“We kill people, and then we sing about it,” Whiting said.
They lead “Random Acts,” a Toledo-based repertoire company of about 30 performers that stages 200 theatrical murder mysteries each year in 120 cities nationwide.
Their numerous shows come in several shapes and sizes, from 45-minute productions tailored specifically for children (no murder, strictly mystery) to weekend-long adult ventures that include meals and plenty of audience participation. The scripts are written by Whiting, who confesses to “ripping off reality” for the plots. They can revolve around everything from “American Idol” and “Law and Order” takeoffs to a crime scenario straight out of the 1930s. The theatre company also produces custom shows for specific organizations.
Their audiences can range from eight to 500 people. Their signature touch is original music written and arranged by Fioritto, with lyrics by Whiting.
“There are a lot of murder mysteries out there, but our music makes it more fun,” Whiting said. “It keeps the people involved. Nobody can just sit on their hands when we’re playing music. I wanted to challenge the national companies and have something meatier.”
The company’s regular gigs at the Spaghetti Warehouse and on the Sandpiper cruise boat in Toledo have led to shows in New York City, Chicago, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, as well as venues in Minnesota, Alabama and Iowa. The group recently signed a five-year contract to entertain at 16 Army bases around the country.
“Random Acts” also performs a comedy cabaret, assists with team-building and training programs for businesses such as First Energy, Alltel and Verizon. They have staged shows on trains, for senior citizen groups and at private parties.
Whiting and Fioritto began their murder mystery theatre company in January 1999 after working for a similar group and deciding they could stage the mysteries better. The plots range from easy to complicated, and they draw audience members in by giving some speaking roles and encouraging all to join in the song vocals.
“They really like it,” Whiting said. “They have a blast. They sing along, and they solve the mystery. We’re good at picking the people who want to be the center of attention. There’s always a ham.”
She said her group has traveled 60,000 miles in the past 1 and one-half years to stage their shows, and the mystery theatre genre just keeps growing.
“When we go to a gig, it’s like a working vacation. It’s a lot of work but it’s very rewarding,” she said. “I want to see us go nationwide.”
For more information, call (419) 381-3281 or visit the Web site www.random-acts.net.