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Thursday, August 21, 2014

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Interactive whodunit features local actor

Tags: Arts
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Danny Wengle

TORONTO — Toronto actor Danny Wengle is the lead investigator in Apprentice to Murder, a hilarious, interactive murder mystery now running at Mysteriously Yours Mystery Dinner Theatre.

Based on the popular TV reality show, this interactive whodunit features “The Donald,” played by Ken MacDougall, and a mixed bag of celebrities.

Wengle explains that his job as Regis Fildin, the investigator, involves helping the audience understand what’s going on, as well as helping the audience solve the crime.

He says audiences will have a great night of fun. “We use from 20 to 30 audience members in any given performance and give them some lines or a situation. We are unpredictable enough, but when you pick people just out of the audience, it can go a wide variety of ways.”

This being live theatre, anything can happen, such as the time Wengle had a bad bout of hiccups just as he was about to sum up the plot and bring it to a conclusion.

“I thought if I timed it just right, I could breathe and they wouldn’t know I had the hiccups, but after a few minutes, the only way to go was to tell the audience I had the hiccups and see who had a cure,” he says.

“So, instead of being a 15-minute summation, it went on for 45 minutes, where somebody wanted me to stand on my head, someone else tried to hypnotize me, and another person sneaked up behind me and tried to scare me. Afterwards, people wondered if that happened every night.”

Wengle says Mysteriously Yours provides something that other theatres don’t provide, in terms of silliness and just having a good time. He says he sees the fun in the audiences’ faces. Unlike bigger theatres, there is an intimacy with the audience because the actors perform around the tables and not from a stage.

Wengle is no stranger to sleuthing. He joined the company in its infancy 25 years ago and, after a 15-year absence, returns to the scene of the crime! It was with the encouragement of his two sons, Jonah, 15, and Ben, 11, who loved a Mysteriously Yours show Wengle took them to, that he decided to return to the murderous fold.

Because the Toronto theatre, on Yonge Street south of Eglinton Avenue, is only blocks away from his home, he has plenty of time to spend with his kids and wife, Sharonah, a doctor. Coincidentally, he met her after one of Mysteriously Yours’ early productions at the Royal York Hotel. She was on a date, but that didn’t stop Wengle from barging in.

Wengle, who is also a writer and sound designer, comes from an entertainment family. His late grandfather, Abraham Fox, and his uncles worked in the film industry, and his extended family includes actors and musicians. Wengle caught the acting bug at a young age, having been exposed to a many classic movies by his family. He first channelled his love of acting into a play at a Jewish camp.

He has appeared in Huron Country Playhouse’s production of Rumors; Lover’s and Madmen’s Kvetch; Sunshine Festival’s Dial M for Murder and White Line Fever’s Girls We Have Known. His television and feature-film credits include Doc; Exhibit A; Booze Can and A Whisper to a Scream.

Apprentice to Murder runs at Mysteriously Yours Mystery Dinner Theatre, at 2026 Yonge St., until Sept. 15. For tickets call, 416-486-7469 or visit www.mysteriouslyyours.com.

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