OFFBEAT: Chance to see sold-out Crown Point dinner theater 'Frozen Stiff'

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-01-20T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Chance to see sold-out Crown Point dinner theater 'Frozen Stiff'Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Last November, even before I had a chance to tell readers about a world premiere dinner theater opportunity at the Lake County Courthouse in Crown Point, it was sold out.

So this time around, I'm making sure I give Times readers plenty of time to get tickets to see "Frozen Stiff," the new and all-original dinner theater murder mystery.

It is once again being staged in the elegant Maki Ballroom in the Court House on the Square in Crown Point.

I didn't make it to the earlier run of performances, but I'm told, "Those attending raved about the combination of a dinner mingled with riotous fun happening all around them."

And best of all, it helps to raise money for a great cause.

Responding to the requests of the many who couldn't get tickets to the November run, the Lake Court House Foundation is scheduling three additional performances in February.

On Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 and 9, performances are at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m. for a social hour and the cash bar. The Sunday matinee on Feb. 10, begins at 1 p.m. with doors opening at noon.

The play is both directed and written by Marion Kellum, a Court House Foundation board member and features local talent for the cast, including real Crown Point Councilwoman Laura Sauerman, playing the wife of a Crown Point councilman of yesteryear.

When I chatted with Kellum last week, he told me he based the play plot on an actual murder discovered in Cedar Lake during the Winter of 1912. The body of a man, frozen stiff, was found in farmer Crip Binyon's barn.

"The entire idea to write this play, which I began last April, came from a couple lines I read in the newspaper in the 'On the This Day in History' feature that runs, reminding of local notable news events from past decades," Kellum said.

It's also fun that Kellum has included characters that were the actual government leaders at the time of the play's setting.

"Crown Point had just become a City and elected its first Mayor and City Council," he said.

So, for his central characters, he included Mayor Harold L. Wheeler, a descendant of Lake Court House Foundation President Marty Wheeler's family, as well as the first actual council members, including Councilman Hodson, Councilman Holton and Councilman Krost.

I'm told the two-hour dinner play performance begins with guests gathered to witness the induction of their newly elected city administration. Suddenly, doors fly open and the Lake County Sheriff wheels in the "frozen stiff" body, while in search of the Lake County Coroner. As you might expect, the formal ceremony is thrown into an uproar as the investigation takes its course. (Fortunately the crime is solved just in time for dessert.)

The menu includes roast beef with potatoes and a side vegetable, a salad course, coffee and tea and dessert.

Carol Drasga tells me the ticket price is still just $40 which includes what she describes as "a wonderful community event for a great cause with a hearty and warm dinner and a very successful play."

All the money made will be matched by the Barbara and Dean White Foundation, with the proceeds going to the Old Lake County Court House.

Tickets can be purchased online at or through the Lake Court House Foundation office in the Court House on the Square in Crown Point.

Parties of eight may reserve whole tables in advance, but only through the Crown Point office. Call (219) 663-0660 for tickets or more information.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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