BOILING SPRINGS - When a mysterious accident puts the beloved mayor of Boiling Springs out of commission, the race is on to find the town's next leader. And when a special emergency election is scheduled at the Allenberry Playhouse and Resort, controversy heats up.
"A Candidate for Murder" is the theme of this year's Murder Mystery weekends, which means that guests will turn into detectives to solve some delightfully gruesome murders. The warm-hearted hospitality and cold-blooded murderous mayhem resume the weekend of Feb.1 through 3, repeating each weekend till the final "election" on the April 26 to 28 weekend.
What sets Allenberry Murder Mystery 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 (including roast suckling pig, Cajun shrimp, Oysters Rockefeller, fried calamari and caviar pie) preceding the delicious dinner entrees and capped off with mouth-watering desserts - I would almost kill for (figuratively speaking) the banana foster crepes with hot fudge sauce.
At each meal, the actors mingle in character and dine with the guests, answering what inquiring minds want to know, which often makes the diabolical plot thicken more than the piping hot soups. With "A Candidate For Murder" comes sex scandals, shady dealings, corruption, bribery, blackmail - and murder! One by one, candidates drop out of the race - by dropping dead. The ballot box gets stuffed - with a corpse or two - or three.
Whose behind the slew of killings? Is it one of the candidates? Maybe it's the smooth-talking two-faced career politician. Or the overzealous newcomer with the puzzling past. Don't count out the crazed campaign manager who will do anything to win. Or the loony lobbyist who might just kill to gain influence.
In the jam-packed weekend, there are fiery debates, funky fundraisers, fierce political entertainment, all topped off with dancing, music and parties for the guests to enjoy, regardless of their political affiliation.
The festivities end with 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 and sites on the Allenberry grounds.
Having been to eight mystery weekends, I heartily agree with Allenberry's marketing, which claims it's almost like being on a cruise (there's even a mid-afternoon serving of tea and pastry).
The only break from corpses cropping up or dropping down unexpectedly comes Saturday afternoon when guests can choose a walking tour of historic Boiling Springs, a downtown visit to village artists' galleries, antiquing demonstrations in nearby Carlisle, a horse-drawn 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'oeuvres table - it is almost a crime to miss out on what Allenberrry's guests get: two nights lodging in one of the rustic or modern cottages, six gourmet feasts (and loads of sticky buns), music, dancing, wine, soft drinks, taxes, gratuities and, of course, murder and mystery.
For more information, call 717-258-3211 or visit www.Allenberry.com. for prices and weekend availability.