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Room With a Clue

Saturday breakfast brought more mayhem. Lunch brought more murder. At 8 a.m., Mayor Simpson was jumping up and down with an amen speech shouting, "Who're you gonna vote for, who're you gonna vote for?"

Playwright Bob Crawford, who plays Police Chief Gunter, has written 15 of the scripts during the 19 seasons the show has gone on.

Guests Ralph Jones and Anita Miller of Hagerstown dress as Boris and Natasha -- of Rocky and Bullwinkle Fame -- at the Allenberry Resort Inn and Playhouse. (Sean Simmers - For The Washington Post)

Comedy is his top priority. And he purposely includes many, many confusing clues. Spectacle also is important. The crowds this year are startled by a victim who drops out of the ceiling in a noose. Another year, a diver in a wetsuit emerged from the creek and started shooting. "You see things here you don't normally see in live performances," he said.

By Saturday night, it was time for more guests to get into the act. At a costume cocktail party, all of the actors and some of the guests dressed as their favorite crime fighters or criminals (guests are told about the party when they book). Nick and Nora Charles and their dog Asta mingled with Boris and Natasha, Dick Tracy, Charles Manson and the Beagle brothers, among others. If some of these characters don't ring a bell, you may not be in the age range of the typical guest.

By the time the mystery was solved at Sunday brunch, I really didn't care who did it. The show was the thing.

But if you must know, the mastermind behind the killings was . . . an anti-social, delusional, selectively narcissistic, schizophrenic manic-depressive with homicidal tendencies. I hope I haven't given anything away.

Escape Keys

GETTING THERE: The Allenberry Resort Inn and Playhouse is at 1559 Boiling Springs Rd., Boiling Springs, Pa., about two hours from Washington. Take I-270 to Route 15 at Frederick, then Route 74 east to Route 174 east.

BEING THERE: The inn's Murder Mystery Weekends are held most weekends through mid-April (800-430-5468, www.allenberry.com). Rates start at $350 per person double occupancy and go up to $916. The action gets going early so you'll want to arrive by 6:30, when the first cocktail hour starts. Bring paper and pencil if you plan to sleuth. Participants who score high on the trivia quiz on Sunday win prizes ranging from T-shirts and bottles of champagne to a season pass to the shows at the playhouse. Would-be actors can volunteer to play bit parts at several points in the show. No one is coerced. Costumes are encouraged but not required for the Saturday night cocktail party.

EATING THERE: New Year's resolutions are history when entrees like prime rib and filet mignon are served with cheese-stuffed potatoes and green beans wrapped in bacon, and sticky buns are available at all meals. There is no shortage of food at the Allenberry but it helps to like sauces, cream soups and fried food. Dinners are sit-down, while other meals, and cocktail hours, are buffet style. All meals and hors d'oeuvres are included in the price of the weekend. Complimentary wine is served with dinner.

SOME OTHER MYSTERY INNS: At La Villa Romaine, Petersburg, Va., mystery weekends are held monthly and guests become characters. Rates start at $450 per couple (800-243-0860, www.lavilla.tierranet.com). Rocky Gap Lodge in Flintstone, Md., offers four shows on weekends through June ($123 per person per night, 800-724-0828, www.rockygapresort.com). The Inn at Jim Thorpe, in Jim Thorpe, Pa., has "A Weekend to Kill For!" April 1-3. From $289 per person (800-329-2599, www.murdermystery.com/cities/JimThorpe.html). West Virginia State Parks present murder mystery weekends at Pipestem Resort, Blackwater Falls, North Bend and Hawks Nest state parks in March and April (www.wvstateparks.com/calendar.html#mar).

INFO: Hershey-Capital Region Visitors Bureau, 877-727-8573, www.pacapitalregions.com.

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© 2005 The Washington Post Company


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