This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.

The school year has begun; the leaves are changing colors and every morning’s just a little bit colder than the last. It’s time for the Kenai Performers season to begin. Every year for more than 20 years, Kenai Performers welcomes winter with a dinner theater performance. This year it’s a girl’s night out turned murder mystery.

Donna Shirnberg plays Victoria in the small cast play and is the coordinator for the event.

“(The play) is funny, cute and it’s interactive with the audience,” Shirnberg said. “The audience needs to watch for clues.”

Shirnberg said the theme and play changes every year. Sometimes the director picks a play they like or even ones they’ve written.

This year’s play, by D’Ann and Rick Artis, is a story about four women on a girl’s night out. Someone they all know is murdered, and each character has a reason for wanting the person gone, Shirnberg said. The cast is small, with four women and a man.

In the past, the Kenai Senior Citizens Center has provided the dinner. Shirnberg said the center wasn’t able to provide catering this year, so Joe Spady of Joe’s Meatball Shoppe, a Soldotna-based food truck, is working with chef Jodene McAuliffe to provide the dinner. The meal includes an antipasto platter, salad, pasta with beef meatballs, dessert and drinks. There will also be gluten-free and vegetarian options available. Spady said he is making more than 900 meatballs for the event.

Spady was an actor with Kenai Performers while he was in high school, and acted earlier this year in their performance of Shrek the Musical.

“I was an actor in two of Kenai Performers’ murder mystery dinner shows,” Spady said. “Earlier this year I was in Shrek the Musical with Kenai Performers and got to reconnect with this amazing theater crowd. They then asked me to work with the amazing Jodene McAuliffe to prepare this year’s murder mystery dinner and of course, meatballs were the obvious choice.”

There are 150 seats available each night. Shirnberg said the event usually sees 100 people or more each night.

Doors open at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21 and 22.

Tickets are $45 and can be found at River City Books, Curtain Call Consignment, Kenai Senior Citizens Center, The Flats Bistro and at the door.

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