BOILING SPRINGS - Murder Mystery Weekends are a special treat for those who like to guess "who-dun-it."
But at Allenberry Resort Inn and Playhouse, when the guests "resort" to murder, the question is not so much who-dun-it, but how much fun the "weekend detectives" can have in solving some delightfully gruesome murders.
Allenberry doesn't shut its doors once the spring-fall professional theater season concludes, but offers memorable weekends (late November through late April) of warm-hearted hospitality and cold-blooded murderous mayhem.
Following Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 25 through 27), and New Year's weekend (Dec. 30 through Jan. 1), the murderers hide out in January, resuming the hilarious homicides each weekend from Feb. 17 through April 29.
What sets Allenberry weekends apart from others is the exceptional service, scrumptious food and festive cocktail parties in rustic surroundings.
There are two cocktail parties with elaborate hors d'oeuvres (roast suckling pig, Cajun shrimp, Oysters Rockefeller, fried calamari and caviar pie) preceeding the delicious dinner entrees and capped off with mouth-watering desserts. I could almost kill (figuratively speaking) for the banana foster crepes with hot fudge sauce.
At each meal, the actors - in character - dine with the guests and answer what inquiring minds want to know, which often makes the diabolical plot thicken more than the piping hot soups.
It's "Viva Las Allenberry," as this year's theme is "All Bets Are Off: A Casino Comes to Allenberry and Makes a Killing!"
Allenberry Resort welcomes a casino onto its property, bringing with it bright lights and blackjack tables, showgirls and slick talkers, wedding chapels and wheelers and dealers.
The ritzy and glitzy entertainment at the Saturday night dance party ranges from crooners and comedians to clowns.
But when Vegas sinners descend upon the resort, all bets are off. Someone's out to make a killing, for real.
Who's behind this onslaught of murders? Could it be the Elvis impersonator who's all shook up? Or the showgirl hiding a murder weapon somewhere in her skimpy costume? Perhaps one gambler leaves too much on the table and would rather kill 'em than fold 'em. Maybe it's the unhappy local protestors who believe gambling is a bigger sin than murder.
Guests who analyze the clues and solve the mystery win prizes at a champagne brunch on Sunday morning when the murderer's identity is revealed.
Part of the fun is that the mystery "moves" as the meals, music and murders are presented in different banquet halls on sites on Allenberry's spacious grounds.
Having been to seven mystery weekends, I agree with Allenberry's marketing, which claims that it's almost like being on a weekend cruise (there's even a mid-afternoon serving of tea and pastry).
The only break from corpses cropping up or falling down unexpectedly comes on Saturday afternoon when guests can choose a walking tour of historic Boiling Springs, a visit to village artists' galleries, antiquing demonstrations in Carlisle, a horse-drawn carriage ride around Allenberry's grounds or simply curling up in their room or in front of one of the lodge's fireplaces.
For a weekend of shameful secrets, questionable motives and red herrings - not the ones that are on the hors d'oeuvre menu - it's almost a crime to miss out on what you get: two night's lodging in one of the modern or rustic cottages, gourmet feasts, sweet treats including Allenberry's famous sticky buns, wines, soft drinks, taxes, gratuities and, of course, murder, mystery and mayhem.
For prices, reservations, weekend availability and more information, call 717-258-3211 or 800-430-5468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.