It’s a tale as old as time––a group of long-lost friends reconnects for a fancy meal and good conversation when, suddenly, someone goes missing. Or, they’re found dead. Whether you played “Clue” growing up, indulged in murder-mystery movies, or read one too many of “The Hardy Boys,” you’ve heard these stories before. But, have you ever wondered if you could crack the code yourself? Become a detective and find the culprit for a real-life “whodunit” experience at these murder mystery dinners in New Jersey.
What is a Murder Mystery Dinner?
There’s nothing like dinner and a show. Taking the idea one step further, murder mystery dinners combine theater and dining to create an entirely new experience. In these shows, audience members work together with the cast, or among themselves, to solve a fictional murder case.
These events aim to allow participants to gather clues, unravel the plot, and solve a crime. Over the span of a multi-course meal, new information is discovered, accusations made, and motives revealed. By playing your specific role and following the script alongside trained actors, you’re able to act as the primary detective or suspect throughout the show.
If you’re feeling nervous, however, fear not. These theater performances are largely comedic, with humorous scenes and absurd accusations strewn throughout. Participants of all ages can attend murder mystery dinners, as they’re a far cry from “Criminal Minds.”
How Does it Work?
Murder mystery shows are all about immersion. The actors are dressed in costumes fitting their respective roles when you enter the theater. They’ll seat your group around the dinner table, explaining the rules and assigning each of you suspect roles.
Similar to the game of “Clue,” your identity is critical to the show, as it’ll help explain potential motives. Did you grow up with the victim? Did the two of you recently disagree? When did you last see them? All of these questions will be addressed through food and fun.
Once roles are assigned, guests can change their outfits using provided costumes or props, signaling your character’s identity. For instance, if you’re an intellectual inventor, you might select a pair of glasses and a top hat. Then, the real game begins.
Guests will work together to solve the fictional murder, each acting as suspect and detective. Interrogate your friends, collect clues, and reveal the entire plot. Or, if you’re the prime suspect yourself, practice your poker face. Whatever route you go, just be sure to crack the case before the murderer escapes.
Where To Find Murder Mystery Dinners in New Jersey
Murder dinners are gaining traction throughout the U.S. A trendy, popular nighttime activity for friends and family, these events are held in New Jersey as public and private shows. Visit a local restaurant holding the performance, rent a venue, or host a party yourself. Here are three companies hosting murder mystery dinners in New Jersey with killer vibes.
The Murder Mystery Co. – Wayne, NJ
What’s life without some (fictional) crime, cuisine, and cocktails? At the Murder Mystery Co., located at the Elk’s Lodge in Wayne, New Jersey, you can enjoy all three in a two-hour immersive mystery dinner experience. While public events are returning soon, this company offers private, in-person and Zoom events to guests for a night of clues and conundrums.
Over the course of a three-part meal, guests will assume roles of various suspects and work together to solve a fictional crime. Dinner starts with a crisp garden salad. Entrée options include chicken marsala, fried flounder, or vegetable lasagna, followed by a rich chocolate cake. Also offering cocktails and beverages, the show is brimming with things to try.
To keep things interesting, the Murder Mystery Company offers various themes for your experience. For a night of nostalgia, choose “A Dance With Death” and solve a murder at the prom before the party ends. Or, for a dazzling time, “Now You See It, Now You Don’t” lets guests hunt down a jewel thief to restore a precious diamond before they escape. With nearly 10 themes to dine through, this murder mystery dinner experience is certain to steal your heart.
The Dinner Detective – Fort Lee, NJ
The Dinner Detective in Fort Lee takes the phrase “hidden in plain sight” to a whole new level. Instead of working alongside dressed-up actors, this company hides their performers in regular clothing right in the audience. America’s largest comedy murder mystery dinner theater is filled with surprises suitable for all adults.
This show is available publicly at Hyatt Place Fort Lee. For a more intimate experience, host a private event at your home, business, or separate venue anywhere in the Fort Lee area. While their public shows are temporarily on hold, private events are available through their request page.
True to its name, The Dinner Detective offers a multi-course meal starting with garden salad and select appetizers. Entree choices range from sauteed chicken breast, fish of the day, and stuffed portobello mushrooms. Dessert, per the chef’s choice, and coffee conclude the evening. But your appetite won’t be satisfied until you uncover the mystery.
Unlike typical murder mystery dinners, this theater doesn’t offer themes or various time periods. Instead, the fictional crime takes place in the present-day, hence their cast members dressing just like you. If Pirates and Prisons challenged your immersion, this more realistic take on a mystery dinner is certain to add a new layer of surprise to your experience.
Actors may interrogate you, or you can interrogate them yourself! Just be sure not to raise suspicions.
Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company – New York-New Jersey Area
Performing more than 100 murder mystery parties each year, the Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company travels throughout the New York-New Jersey area to host an array of performances. This troupe offers shows for fundraisers, birthday parties, children’s theater, and other private events.
These dynamic, professional entertainers perform a mix of improv and comedy, arranging their style to best match their audiences. Traveling to various private venues and events, the troupe can decorate any space to maximize your diners’ immersion. Interact with one another, memorize hidden clues, and discuss among yourselves through this company’s customizable performance.
Offering different themes to best match your audiences, from the Roaring ‘20s to nautical nonsense, the Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company intends to stimulate your brain and challenge your logic. So, if you’re unsure what to plan for your next group activity, this theater company is sure to help you get a clue!
Feature image by Niklas Ohlrogge
Have you ever attended one of these murder mystery dinners in New Jersey? Let us know in the comments!