Valor Hall was teeming with suspects Saturday evening for the Best Laid Plans, old Hollywood Murder Mystery interactive show.

Nashville’s American Emerging Theater Co. actors troupe and more than 250 guests intermingled throughout the night, which started with cocktail hour before the dinner and three-act show.

“My favorite part is you get to interact with people and keep the magic going with them,” said actress Kendalin BriAnna. “It’s a rare opportunity to get to do that with acting.”

Oak Grove Tourism Director Traci Cunningham said it was possibly the most well-attended murder mystery dinner the commission has hosted.

“We haven’t done one in a couple of years, but we sold probably 260 tickets, so we have a really good crowd,” she said.

Most guests were dressed in garb from the late 1920s and early 1930s, going along with the old Hollywood theme.

Retired military couples Steven and Darlys Marty and their friends Chad and Brenda Hunley, all of Clarksville, found their costumes on Amazon and Party City for their first murder mystery experience.

“We’ve always seen them and never been able to attend one, so when she saw it online, we said ‘absolutely’ and asked them to join us,” Chad said.

Fort Campbell veteran Seabrook Fields and his wife Jennifer Fields attended the show after receiving tickets from the Yellow Ribbon Fund.

Jennifer explained that the Yellow Ribbon Fund is a nonprofit caregiver program for wounded military veterans and their families.

“It’s basically a support group that helps support the family unit as a whole,” Jennifer said. “It might be for someone like this who has invisible wounds or somebody that has visible injuries. It’s support, outreach, just anything they need.”

Seabrook was picked to be part of Saturday night’s show as “the butler,” noted Nashville acting troupe director Bryan Arroyo.

“We chose people from the audience we felt might participate and have a good playing attitude, so he got chosen as a suspect,” Arroyo said. “The others are teams of players. We introduce them to all the suspects and then we give them investigation time.”

The show was divided into three acts, each telling the story about who committed the crime.

Guests were given fake money to bribe people in the room for information about the murderer.

“It is an intricate jigsaw,” Arroyo said. “It’s not that easy to solve, but with a room this size — we have 28 tables — I fully expect that six tables will get the right answer.”

By the end of the night, guests had either figured out “whodunnit” or were more confused than the beginning.

Those that nabbed the killer received a “Detective of the Night” certificate, and best-dressed received a cash prize, the director noted.

Cunningham, who sat with Oak Grove Mayor Theresa Jarvis, said this might be the first of several murder mystery events hosted by Oak Grove Tourism this year.

“I’m certainly happy with the turnout,” she said. “It’s so popular and people just love it. This one was the kickoff.”

Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or

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