Nothing, it seems, can kill Marriage Can Be Murder. The dinner-theatre mainstay recently celebrated its 10th anniversary by relocating from the Four Queens to Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel, which has brightened up its showroom for the occasion. Marriage debuted a decade back at the now-vanished Showboat casino. It held down the fort at the Egg & I restaurant from 2001-07, prior to becoming a downtown institution.
Some things about Marriage never change. True, the actors have gotten older (and wider) with the years but the poster art still looks the box cover for a porno film - and not in a good way. A murder is committed and, over three courses of dinner, audience members have the opportunity to get in on the act of solving the crime -- a task complicated by "plants" in the audience. Spectators may also be recruited to act as pallbearers, musicians, doctors, etc.
To kick off its Fitzgeralds residency in gala fashion, Marriage recruited celebrity "victims" for the first few performances. On opening night, it was Mayor Oscar Goodman (who, despite having worked with Martin Scorcese, didn't hit his "mark"), followed the next evening by local eccentric Monti Rock III.
Any further attempt at plot summary would be pointless. As a PR rep for the show explains, "The storyline changes a bit and the secondary characters change every two to three months to keep things fresh and guests coming back to guess who the killer is the next time around."
The two stalwarts are co-author Eric Post, who plays a Paul Blart-alike in too-short shorts - making him the butt of most of the evening's humor. Many of those barbs are fired by emcee Mee Mee (Christie Copeland). Playing a blonde airhead in the best Judy Holliday tradition, Copeland is as dumb as a fox and her quick-witted quips ("The wheel is spinning but the hamster's been dead a long time.") make the play's two hours bearable, as does the deft work by the sound men, always ready with the right effect or music cue. Copeland also sings splendidly, but not enough.
She's spelled two nights a week by co-author Jayne Post, as the show plays a punishing 365-days-a-year schedule. This reviewer will confess to finding Marriage's popularity all but unfathomable, as what measly plot there is fails to sustain an evening's duration. If you're in an indulgent frame of mind, the desultory proceedings could be amusing in a karaoke-bar sort of way.
Yes, Marriage can be murder ... as is the food. Stale bread, rubbery beef and flavorless rice were representative of the bill of fare when we attended (the carrots were good, though). Judging by the acting of the supporting players, they were on a diet of ham.
At least there's plenty of Buffalo Grove Wine on hand, which is just the ticket if you want to tie one on in a hurry. It can't hurt to be somewhat buzzed if you're seeing Marriage Can Be Murder -- and probably helps. It might also soften the "sticker shock" of the price. Not counting ancillary fees, tickets start at $44.95 for locals (tip and one cocktail includrf), escalating to $54.95 for non-Nevadans. For an additional $15, you get preferred seating and a free T-shirt, if that's your bag. At any tier, this is one of the more overpriced shows in Las Vegas.
Marriage Can Be Murder
Sun.-Sat., 6:30 p.m.
Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel Showroom
301 Fremont Street