Most anyone who has been involved in a wedding will testify that they can be murder. But Bluegrass Mystery Theatre director Dana Edison had never contemplated a murder mystery set at a wedding, until a potential client called.
"She said, 'Do you do bachelorette parties?'" Edison says, "and I said, 'We've never done one, but we can.' She said, 'Do you have anything that's about a wedding?'"
Edison didn't. But she had been contemplating what to do for the theater's May engagement at Equus Run Vineyards. Since it was the season for weddings, Edison approached Lexington writer Donna Ison about penning a new murder mystery, with nuptials at the center of the story.
Ison's creation, A Wedding to Die For, premiered at Equus Run in May and will be presented Friday night at the Waterford Clubhouse in the Waterford neighborhood, with catering by Columbia Steakhouse.
What Ison came up with was a story set in the world of reality TV, with nods to everything from The Bachelor and Say Yes to the Dress to Jerry Springer and The Bad Girls Club.
"I think reality TV is insane, and I had to make a comment," says Ison, the editor of Skirt! magazine, which is affiliated with the Herald-Leader. "In the world of celebrity culture, people will let the general public decide some of the most important things about their lives."
In this story, two potential brides are competing to marry a dreamy groom in a fantasy wedding on the fictional reality show Wedding to Die For. The brides-to-be could not be a sharper contrast: beautiful and brainy Juliette, who can find the cures for mysterious elephant diseases, versus Mojo Beaudroux, a hard-drinking good ol' girl with little regard for anyone but herself. Other characters include the groom's overbearing mother, the flamboyant wedding planner and the cheesy reality-show host. Of those five characters, one ends up dead, and the rest of the show is consumed with whodunit.
The people in the audience fill out ballots choosing who they think did it, and the correct entries are thrown into a hat, with one winner picked for the evening's prize.
Ison, who has written four scripts for Bluegrass Mystery Theatre, says, "There is a formula to writing these shows. You have to give the audience clues so that if they are paying attention, they can figure it out."
There are lots of clues in Ison's shows because one thing that distinguishes her work is that she writes two endings, "so if someone is seeing a show for the second time, they might not know who the killer is."
And there is a real possibility that people might see shows twice. Bluegrass Mystery Theatre is available for private parties and public performances, such as the Waterford Clubhouse show Friday night.
With a few bachelorette parties attending performances of A Wedding to Die For, Edison says, the company's productions have a new market. If the troupe ever finds that it needs a new wedding play, Ison says, there are plenty of things that can be done with a wedding as the setting for a murder mystery.
"You could do it at the wedding, before the wedding ... ," Ison says.
With all the possible plots and intrigue, weddings don't seem quite so safe anymore.