After a successful run of the wildly funny theater happening "Tony and Tina's Wedding" at the Fells Point Cafe (20,000 saw the play), producer Howard Perloff has formed the new Fells Point Cabaret Theatre at the same location, 723 S. Broadway.
According to Perloff, the cabaret will be a year-round theater venue offering musicals, comedies and dramas and some original scripts. Local actors from the Baltimore-Washington area will be cast as well as some New York professionals.
First on the agenda is an audience participation thriller, "Murder on the Waterfront," a dinner theater package running tonight through New Year's Eve. Thereafter, the show will pick up its regular schedule, playing at 7 p.m. Fridays and 7 and 10:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 3 and 7 p.m. Sundays through March 10.
The cost of the dinner theater entertainment is $29.95 a person except for the special New Year's Eve celebration ($75 each), which includes dinner, the show, culinary extras, and dancing to the live sounds of Perloff's own orchestra until 2 a.m.
Perloff, a professional saxophone player and all around entrepreneur, has an interesting theater background. He has done some acting and was stage manager for the Broadway musical, "A Joyful Noise," starring John Raitt. He also co-produced the original New York production of "Torch Song Trilogy" and, most recently, co-produced Peter Allen's lavish Broadway musical extravaganza, "Legs Diamond."
"That was not a success," says Perloff, "but Peter was great." The producer whose family roots are in Philadelphia commutes to Baltimore three or four days a week.
The mystery is being staged in the large party room, which seats 200, behind the elegant little cafe in the front of the building. Next door is a dance space now known as the Sanctuary where the young crowd kicks up its heels Wednesdays through Sundays.
"We call it the Sanctuary because that is where Tony and Tina were married," laughs Perloff. "That was the name of the chapel in the play. The business we do there should keep us here for ten years."
The same mystery play is running in New York under the title, "Murder at Midnight." "I changed the name to suit the Fells Point ambience," Perloff says.
The local version has been directed by Ron Pacie, who directeand produced the original show in New York. Pacie's wife, Joani, wrote the script.
"The action takes place in a cafe on the waterfront," Perloff says. "People keep getting murdered and the actors and the audience solve the mystery. The patrons are given clues and they write down who they think did it and why.
"The menu will be similar to the one we offer in the cafe," Perlofsays. "Theater goers will have their choice of baked salmon, sliced tenderloin or baked chicken with artichoke and mushroom stuffing.
"The new cabaret theater will have cloth covered tables and a continental atmosphere." Plans for the future include a new, portable stage with lights and wings. "So we can mount off-Broadway musicals," he says.
On March 15 Perloff will present the sophisticated musical satire, "Forbidden Broadway," which had a long booking in Chicago and is still running in New York off-Broadway.
"It is a hilarious takeoff on Broadway musicals, old and new," says the producer. "The piece spoofs such shows as 'The Phantom of the Opera,' 'Peter Pan,' 'Dream Girls,' 'Grand Hotel' and even 'Miss Saigon,' which has not opened yet.
"The musical will probably have a New York cast since there are only four people in the show," says Perloff. "They have to be the best. The actors must have wonderful voices and a gift for high satire. You can't poke fun and not be good.
"I love Baltimore," he says, "particularly this area. With the Vagabonds, the Fells Point Corner Theatre and the Harborlights Dinner Theatre, I think we have a real theater complex that offers a variety of shows to the local trade and tourists."
For reservations and further information about "Murder on the Waterfront," call the Fells Point Cabaret Theatre at 327-8800.