St. Agnes Catholic Church celebrated Mardi Gras early with a special Murder Mystery dinner theater event.
On Saturday evening, a "cast of characters"mardi from St. Agnes Church, including Joe Yates, Samantha Yates, Jen Murphy, Rodica Stoicoiu, Teresa McBee, Caleb McBee, Chuck Pierpont, Fred Dubay and Sandy Sponaugle, all came together to perform a whodunit play for a room full of dining attendees.
Joe Yates, who served as director of the play and lead actor, explained that the event has been held for the past three years as a fundraiser for the church's building fund.
The church, which is now located on South Duke St. in downtown Shepherdstown, was rebuilt and relocated about five years ago and fundraisers like the dinner theater event have been held each year to help pay off resulting costs.
Yates, who has a background in theater, explained that the murder mystery dinner was a unique event for the church.
"This is different," he said. "It's just fun."
Rodica Stoicoiu, who played "Carmela" a "murderee" echoed Yates's comment.
"It's an excellent fun fundraiser," she said.
Chuck Pierpont, who has participated in every Mardi Gras play and played "Dudley the lawyer," this year, said the dinner theater approach results in what is always an "interesting experience" for both the actors and the audience.
Pierpont spoke about the collaborative nature of the fundraiser.
"It's fun because I'm also involved in other parts of it," he said.
This year, Pierpont was elected to choose the play's surprise ending and pick a murderer right before Saturday evening's performance.
"We get to decide!" he said.
The event emphasizes crowd participation as well. Each table got to choose who they thought "done it" and the winning tables received prizes from the church.
Director Yates said the church's only "performance oriented" fundraiser is always a big hit.
Approximately 100 tickets were sold for the event.
Yates applauded those who helped make the event possible for the third year and acknowledged the special bravery of a cast made up entirely of volunteers.
"It's not the easiest thing in the world to get up in front of their fellow parishioners and do silly stuff," he said.
This year Yates said he bought and adapted the murder mystery performed Saturday which revolved around the murder of two sisters.
Yates said he suggested a murder mystery as a theme for the church's fundraiser two years ago and thinks the church will continue to use that format in years to come.
"I think it went great!" he said following Saturday night's show.
Yates said he attended a Knights of Columbus meeting at the church following the event and overheard fellow church members urging those who missed the show to attend next year.
"The crowd response was good... They really enjoyed it," he said.
To find out information about St. Agnes Church's forthcoming fundraising events or to find out more about the church visit www.StAgnesShepherdstown.org.