Actors Guild mixes food, fun and murder

PARKERSBURG – Food, fun and a murder mystery came together Saturday as the Actors Guild of Parkersburg was the site the fourth Second Saturday Social, a monthly series which began last November.

“Murder in Black and White” was the entertainment after a walk through the Julia-Ann Square Historic District late Saturday afternoon.

“We were approached by Downtown PKB and Kim Coram of the Parkersburg Bicycle Advisory Board about this and we said yes,” said Guild member Ann Simonton. “We think if we can get people into the theater for whatever reason then they are more likely to come back.”

Simonton said each business that participates in the Socials decides on the entertainment and for the Guild the choice was obvious.

“We are supposed to provide some sort of refreshment and some sort of entertainment,” she said. “Since we are a theater we should do something theatrical.”

In keeping with the social aspect, Simonton said the Guild picked a production that would allow for audience participation. In “Murder in Black and White” at the intermission the audience is asked to deduce who did the deed by talking with cast members in character to guess the outcome.

“We decided to do something to engage the audience instead of them sitting there,” she said. “It was right for the amount of time we had.”

Simonton said the play had some minor changes made to include references to the Crystal Cafe, the host of the January Second Saturday Social.

Under the Second Saturday Social program, for a $5 fee people can participate in a walk or bicycle ride and enjoy a free beverage with entertainment at the host business. Prior to Saturday’s event, there was a guided walk through the historic district. Due to the ice and snow still on the roads and after last week’s storm and temperatures below freezing, the bike ride did not take place.

At the end of Saturday’s program, 27 of the 54 guests guessed the correct villain.

Coram said the Second Saturday Socials grew out of the annual Park Day.

“When we did Park Day people wanted it to continue but it’s too much planning to do it more often,” she said. “So we decided to focus on one business each month and start out with a walk and bike ride so people can get familiar with downtown businesses and the hiking and biking routes down here.”

Coram said the idea is to provide some sort of low-cost event to allow people to connect with a business and have some entertainment, refreshments and a way to connect with downtown.

“So far they have been very successful,” she said. “We have more merchants wanting to do a Saturday then we have Saturdays available. So we are thinking if having more than one merchant.”

Coram said the ultimate goal is to have businesses open without an event, but have an opening on Saturday as part of their usual business. Coram said Downtown PKB will take over the planning and promotion of the socials in the future.

For March, Coram said the social will take during the daytime hours with the Adventure and Recreation Expo at the new Downtown Farmers’ Market at Point Park. She said it will be early so as not to interfere with the annual “Dancing with a Night of Stars” at the Parkersburg Art Center on that date.

As part of Saturday’s social at the Guild, the audience was asked to dress in black and white for the event and prizes were awarded for the best costumes. Clare Walker, of Williamstown, was chosen as best female costume, J.R. Carpenter was best male costume and best couple were Kim Coram and John Wiseman.

Second Saturday Socials are sponsored by the Blennerhassett Bicycle Club, Parkersburg Bicycle Advisory Board and Downtown PKB. For more information, visit parkersburgparkday.com.