While the Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre and Shoppe is a newbie to the Charleston area – they’re opening at 164 Church Street in July – it’s certainly not new to the business.
Back in 1988, Black Fedora owner Darryl Wade graduated from Oglethorpe University with a passion for theater and comedy. Even while working in Oglethorpe’s admissions office, “he was thinking of doing something where people would have fun together,” says co-onwer Sherry Wade. Darryl then started the Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre and Shoppe in Atlanta, where the group often performed for small divisions of larger companies in order to improve team-building skills among the client’s employees.
Here’s how it went: At the beginning of the show, one of the company’s bigwigs – usually the boss – was “killed” off. At that point, it was up to the company’s employees to solve the mystery of their boss’ death by keeping track of each pretend suspect’s weapons and motives. Through different team-building activities – like building Lego statues and competing in relay races – employees worked for clues that brought them closer to solving the mystery.
While the comedy mystery theater troupe has always been Darryl’s vision, Sherry works mostly with the marketing of the company as well as acting in the troupe. “We’re in it together,” she says. “We’ve always done everything jointly. We’ll do this jointly too.” As a team, Darryl and Sherry decided to move to the company to Charleston. “It’s part of the dream of coming here, where we would have tourist crowds and local people,” Sherry says.
In their new space on Church Street, the company sits right next to the market and has enough room to entertain 50-60 people each show. They also have a shop at the front of the building. “We hope to grow. We’re excited about the place because of where it is and what we’re trying to do,” Sherry says. Now that the company’s moving to Charleston, they plan to put a new spin on their show. Now, “it’s more of a show and less of a game,” Sherry says.
However, the show will still thrive on audience participation. Each audience member has the chance to play an individual part in the show by listening to stage cues and delivering lines. Visitors can choose between three, comedy-infused mysteries: Inspector NoClue’s Murder Mystery!, The Pirate Mystery Treasure Show!, and Charleston History Mystery!, inspired by Charleston’s history and the city’s ghosts tours.
The Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre and Shoppe will be holding auditions on Sat. June 2, 2012 by appointment to find members for their House Cast. Auditions will be conducted through cold readings of provided scripts. Actors must be 18 or older and should bring of photo of themselves to the audition. Callbacks will be conducted the following week. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit charlestonmysteries.com.