It’s no mystery why SLEUTHS has become and remains a major entertainment destination for almost 30 years, in the very competitive Orlando market. Our first visit was several years ago, also in the International Drive area, but in a much smaller and not as easily accessible location. The theatre’s spacious new home is at 8267 International Drive, behind Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and within a mile or two of the Orlando Convention Center, Sea World, and Universal Studios.
I have seen a number of attractions come and go, like the long-established Civic Theatre, The Mark Two Dinner Theatre and Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. Why has SLEUTHS succeeded? Their motto says it all: Step into a World of Comedy and Intrigue Where You Become the Detective!
They produce a show every evening at 7:30, with the early start necessary for those visitors who plan to get up early for trips to the major theme parks. When you call for a reservation, you will be asked to chose one of three entrées: Cornish game hen, sweet potato & veggies; Prime Rib dinner ($3.00 extra) with baked potato and veggies; or four cheese lasagna with or without meatballs, veggies and garlic bread.
You will be asked to arrive at 6:30 to pick up your tickets. Prior to the show, hors d’oeuvres (assorted cheeses, small sandwich rolls, and fruit) are available in the lobby, and drinks, including specialty cocktails, can be purchased at the full-service bar. The gift shop is quite large and you can easily spend a lot of time browsing, not only for sleuthing items like deerstalker hats, pipes, badges, but earrings, art work, books, and many novelty items, too numerous to mention.
Once seated, the meal starts a green salad, dinner rolls, assorted crackers and a signature cheese spread. You will be offered unlimited soft drinks, coffee, tea, beer, or wine, which is included in the admission. We sat at a table with a family from Iowa, a young dancer from California, and a frequent Orlando visitor from South Dakota. All of whom had been to SLEUTHS in previous visits to Orlando over the past several years.
We had the prime rib which was a generous tasty, tender portion. Most of our tablemates had prime rib as well, with one opting for the Cornish hen, which I heard was well received. The meal is topped off with a mystery dessert that I will not reveal since it changes from time to time and it would not be a mystery if I told you. (It was good).
SLEUTHS has a repertory of 14 plays with titles like Celestial Manor, Lord Mansfield’s Foxhunt Banquet, Squire’s Inn, and Roast ‘em and Toast ‘em, to name a few. We saw The Premiere by an unknown playwright, who might not recognize it now since the shows are updated to include references to current stars and events. The play was about the premiere of a B movie set in South America, and directed by the obviously gay Jeremy, with stock characters like Texas Oil tycoon Henry Beaumont who has invested millions in the film, the dumb blonde star, Nickie, the bombastic agent, Bert, and Madame Gilda, Psychic to the Stars. Of course someone dies, poison darts are involved, and everyone in the cast would have had a strong motive to commit the murder.
Each table works as a team to come up with one question they can direct to any of the suspects. This was the really funniest part of the show, as the actors obviously had a lot of experience in improv theatre. Their responses were for the most part hilarious which was obvious from the reaction of the audience. Participants who guessed (or more correctly, deduced) the identity of the murderer were entered in a drawing for a keepsake prize, useful for off-site sleuthing activities.
You will notice I have not mentioned the names of the actors. That is because while the list of the shows might not change, the actors might. Orlando has a lot of actors living in the area, with many working at theme parks and others just traveling through, who may work a few shows for a few weeks or months. The five we saw were certainly professional and talented performers.
SLEUTHS uses a proscenium stage, and it was colorfully decorated to fit the theme of the show. All the actors projected well and were easy to understand. I liked the use of a hand mike by the “detective” (in this case Santa Claus) so we could clearly hear the questions of all the amateur sleuths in the room.
As an entertainment value, SLEUTHS is well worth the price, and you won’t leave hungry or thirsty. For the mystery shows, the price is $52.00 for adults and $24.00 for children (3-11). They also offer comedy shows, which don’t include dinner, at 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for $10.00. Want to investigate further? Check out their website at www.sleuths.com. You can view their schedule, find discount coupons, buy tickets on-line, and even buy an annual pass to this theatre. You can also reach them at 407-363-1985 or 800-393-1985 for information and reservations.