Murder-mystery dinner to benefit Armstrong hospital expansion

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Whether you love Lucy or not, you're bound to have a ball at the ACMH Foundation's murder-mystery fundraiser show.

Brought to life by Mystery's Most Wanted Productions, “I Loathe Lucy” takes a stab at the classic sitcom “I Love Lucy,” offering up lots of laughs.The show, which features improv comedy and opportunities for audience participation, offers the chance to try to figure out who is responsible for the twisted turn of events that takes place when Lucy once again interferes with Ricky's attempts to make it big.

The unique combo of comedy and whodunit is always a crowd-pleaser, according the Pittsburgh-based theater company's founder and producing manager, Randy Oliva. Oliva also plays Lucy's husband, Ricky Ricardo.

“I just think people are intrigued by it,” he says. “They enjoy a good mystery.”

Kathryn Haines has managed to solve her own mystery — how to play Lucy. She's spent hours doing research — watching “I Love Lucy” reruns. Although the show is a parody of a comedy classic, it's one that offers just enough twisted differences to make it perfect for a murder-mystery.

Haines says her favorite scenes are with Ethel, played by Barbara Williams, and with her on-stage husband, Ricky Ricardo. “Randy is Ricky Ricardo. He's so much fun to play off of,” she says.

Oliva says that “Lucy” has been a long-time crowd favorite. Mystery's Most Wanted has had the show in its rotation for more than five years. It never fails to knock them dead.

“Whether you're a Lucy fan or not, you will enjoy this show,” Oliva says.

The show is about a good cause, as well, because it will benefit ACMH's efforts to renovate its emergency department. The extensive renovations, says Jodi Beers, executive director of the ACMH Foundation, will help the hospital to better serve patients.

The dinner-theater fundraiser is a first for ACMH. “It's just something a little different for Valentine's Day that's fun,” Beers says. “We all need a little comedy in our life.”

Comedy is not all that will be on the menu — dinner is included, as well.

Despite the dark humor, Haines says that benefits, such as the ACMH event, are overall heartwarming.

“These are my favorite shows to do,” she says. “It's always so amazing to see packed houses of people who are there to support a good cause and really see being entertained as secondary to the experience of contributing to their community. It gives you faith in humanity.”

Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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