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Professional Theatre Troupe Invades Barn


It might not be the setting you expect – and you might not know who is part of the play and who isn’t – but it will all be in good fun, with professional actors putting on a murder mystery dinner theater next month.

The location will be Grandpa’s Barn, at 17693 Enterprise Road in Escalon, and EHS Class of 2013 alum Taylor Carnes has written and will direct the March 5 show. “Dead Man in Grandpa’s Barn” is a ‘whodunit’ and will feature dinner and the show, with proceeds going to help Carnes with musical, travel and school expenses.

“This is the first show I have fully written and directed,” said Carnes, who is currently attending CSU Stanislaus as a Music major with an emphasis in vocal performance.

“We have a cast of professional actors that I have worked with throughout my life, I’m really lucky to have them as friends,” Carnes added.

They come primarily from the Stockton and Lodi areas and are all actors and singers, having performed in plays and musicals throughout the region.

“Some of the performers will be amongst the audience so you never really know who is involved,” explained the writer-director. “It’s not a very long script and it’s kind of going to be half and half, script and improvisation.”

That should make for a lively evening of dinner theater, with the goal of solving the murder mystery, determining who is responsible for that ‘dead man’ in the barn.

Tickets are $40 per person, which includes the dinner and evening of theater in the barn setting, which has also been utilized for a number of events through Lorina’s Edible Garden, which is helping host the production. To purchase tickets or for additional information about the evening go to: or call (209) 691-0551.

Carnes said the fundraiser is designed to help her travel next summer to further her education through a summer music program, either on the East Coast or Europe.

“It’s one of those things that’s very necessary, as a performer,” she said of traveling for summer education and music immersion.

Always busy, Carnes is currently one of the leads in the CSU Stanislaus operetta production of ‘Die Fledermaus’ and this past weekend, was in a competition where she took first place in her age division (17 to 20) for musical theater at the National Association of Teachers of Singing event and earned second place overall in the Classical competition.

She started taking singing lesson at the age of 4 and was in her first production at “9 or 10,” Carnes said, tackling a role in her first opera at 14. She still is involved with Townsend Opera Company and is also an intern with the Fresno Grand Opera.

For the special murder mystery evening, she said the professional actors from the In Motion Theatre Company are sure to give a performance to remember.

“I think it’s important that people realize this is professional theater,” she said, adding that it’s a unique venue for the performers and the audience.

The “Dead Man in Grandpa’s Barn” event will be held on Saturday, March 5 starting with a no host cocktail hour from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Dinner and show begin at 6:30 p.m., with the dinner menu including barrel roasted chicken and tri-tip, baked potato with herb butter, seasoned corn, Caesar salad, rolls with butter, coffee, fresh lemonade and a dessert bar.

There will also be a variety of drawings for prizes, ranging from a Darth Vader ‘build a bear’ to natural herb products to Townsend Opera tickets and a photography sitting.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” Carnes said. “Escalon hasn’t seen anything like this … I’m excited.”