Moments of darkness will help spin a tale of mystery in the parish hall of La Grande’s Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, Feb. 8 and Feb. 9.

The parish hall will be the site of the 16th annual Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, a fundraiser for restoration projects at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church. This year’s production, “Party with the Pirates,” will feature a 13-member cast portraying pirates, sea creatures and more on a set with decorations designed to make audience members and actors feel like they are at sea.

At one point during the play, the lights will be switched off and a character, to the accompaniment of sound effects, will be forced to walk a plank. Following the production’s conclusion, the audience will huddle at their tables and guess who was responsible for forcing the character to walk the plank. Each table will be responsible for submitting one guess, said Zee Koza, who wrote the script and will direct “Party with the Pirates.”

One of the scenes audience members may be evaluating for clues is a face-off between Pirate Captain Plasma (played by Steve Hamilton) against two pirate brothers, Walkin Dee Plank (Tony Carman) and Joaquin Tee Plank (Gary Bottger). Hamilton, Carman and Bottger and everyone in the cast are members of the Fourth Street Players, a company so named because Our Lady of the Valley is located on Fourth Street.

People entering the parish hall will be greeted by actors in character before the play begins.

“It will get them in the mood for the whole evening,” Koza said.

A “Captain’s Table” meal will be enjoyed by the audience during the production, featuring a buffet dinner with prime rib or chicken cordon bleu plus appetizers and desserts. “Buccaneer Bill’s” no-host bar will offer adult beverages. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. each evening.

Admission to the dinner theater is $35 a person. Tickets may be reserved by calling the church office at 541-963-7341, emailing office@olvcatholic.org or stopping by 1002 L Ave. between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tickets must be purchased by the end of the day Monday, Feb. 4.

The event is open to those age 21 and older. The parish hall entrance is at the corner of Fifth Street and K Avenue.

The Fourth Street Players’ motto for its annual dinner theater production is: “Prime rib and chicken may be on the menu, but there is always plenty of ham on the stage.”

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