They dined. They danced. They witnessed a death by cyanide and decided to track down the killer themselves.

It was a night to die for when the Fairfield University Ballroom Dance Club held its fourth annual Murder Mystery Dance last Thursday. More than 100 Fairfield students and guests were treated to a night of dinner and dancing, highlighted by an interactive murder mystery play.

“The cast was so good!” said Patricia Hartendorp ’06, who attended the event for the second time. “They’re very convincing. They can think of a good answer for any question you ask them.”

The Secrets of the Syn Family, performed by Chester Hadlyme Mysteries, told the story of a greedy Southern family, heirs to a toilet paper fortune. An engagement party went horrifyingly wrong with the fatal poisoning of the groom-to-be. The audience then attempted to solve the murder by interrogating the characters.

Some of the more memorable moments were the unscripted ones. Kevin Saville ’06 played along with a running joke that he was trying to seduce the mother, even grinding with her on the dance floor. Desirae Brown ’07 frequently encouraged the detective to search for clues in the mother’s ample cleavage. Guesses of the murderer’s identity ranged from audience members to the innocent DJ.

The cast was invited back after a successful performance last year.

“I’m so glad [the cast] could come back,” said Ballroom Dance Club Vice President Kelly Anne Martin ’06, who was in charge of planning and running the event. “They were great last year, so I definitely wanted them back.”

The cast had similar sentiments.

“We love coming here,” said Chris Pollack, a stand-up comedian who played the conniving brother David Syn. “The audience is always getting into it, asking lots of questions, having a great time.”

The mystery was solved by Karen Seavers ’05, who predicted the dastardly lawyer to be the murderer – one of six possible endings for the same play. Seavers won a T-shirt autographed by the cast as well as free movie passes for the people sitting at her table.

The evening ended with dancing late into the night. Many agreed that the Murder Mystery Dance was a welcome break from the typical Thursday.

“It’s the biggest event for Ballroom,” said Martin, “but it’s also my favorite night of the year.”

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