'MobFellas': Crime time at dinnertime

The Barnstable Patriot, February 2015, Written by Johanna Crosby      
Between dinner and dessert mob boss Carmine Pelagatti gets whacked and it's the audience's job to guess the motive for murder and the killer's identity by evening's end.

The Cape Codder Resort & Spa's dinner theater is back again this season and offers a fun way to escape the winter doldrums for a few hours with laughs and a delectable dinner buffet. Last Saturday's offering, Mystery Cafe's interactive murder/mystery comedy “MobFellas" by Scott Sand and Charlotte Dore, forewarns the audience to “leave the gun, take the cannelloni.”

Hardly as slick as “The Sopranos,” the script is as thin as angel hair pasta. But the show generates plenty of laughs with its lowbrow, broad comedy and spoofy portrayals of fast-talking, trigger happy but likeable wiseguys in dark suits and fedoras, accompanied by their earthy molls.

Pelagatti, a Godfather-style don, welcomes the audience to become members of his “familia” for the evening. The Emerald Room is charged with excitement as the affable but temperamental Carmine announces that he will bestow a high honor on one of his top underlings by making him a “made” man. Adding to the atmosphere is Pelagatti's s favorite musician, Jimmy Twinkle Fingers, who serves up snappy song stylings on his accordion.

The interactive element is the best aspect of the show. Before the action starts, the actors mingle with the audience, never stepping out of character. But the frivolities are disrupted by betrayal, double-dealing and the uncovering of dirty secrets.

Bored by a marriage in which the passion has faded, Carmine's longtime wife, Celeste, has been stepping out with mad dog Ronnie Definko, the ambitious tough guy. Harry Shill, a disgruntled mobster, is revealed to be a government informant. His wife, Carol, a sassy dame who's only eight percent Italian, has been secretly working for Carmine because he made her an offer she couldn't refuse: day care.

Suddenly offstage there's the sound of a gunshot. Carmine stumbles into the dining room and collapses on a chair at one of the tables. The mobsters go bananas at the sight of their dead boss. The murder draws in the law, in the guise of swaggering FBI special Agent Woodrow “Woody” Nichols, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Carmine. Woody rants that the murder complicates his investigation to bring down the Pelagatti crime family.

As if murder doesn't have enough zany antics to liven up the evening, Carol leads a group of women doing a line dance to “Proud Mary” and Ronnie sings “Bella Notte,” as three couples slow dance with each partner sucking one end of a strand of fake spaghetti, a piece of red licorice.

Woody pieces together the clues with the help of his snitches, Bobby Nose and Lefty, the boss's right hand lieutenant, played by volunteers from the audience. Some audience members got recognized for their “bonehead” answers to the whodunit.

The standout of the ensemble cast is Rich Rinsland as Carmine/Woody. The actor knows how to play a room with his swagger and bravado.
The Cape Codder Resort & Spa, 1225 Iyannough Road, Hyannis, will continue its dinner theater performances through May.