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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY PAUL BOGER“The Goblet Of Poison,” through Nov. 10, Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, Cock ‘N Bull in Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, Bucks County. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY PAUL BOGER“The Goblet Of Poison,” through Nov. 10, Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, Cock ‘N Bull in Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, Bucks County.

Theater Review: ‘Harry Potter’ spoof at Peddler’s Village dinner theater

Friday, September 21, 2018 by Paul Willistein in Focus

Thrills and chills and funnybone pokes are the order of fare for “The Goblet Of Poison” at the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, Peddler’s Pub, Cock ‘N Bull in Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, Bucks County.

The show, presented by Without A Cue Productions, is a spoof of the “Harry Potter” movies and books. Performances continue through Nov. 10. The show, written by Lesley Zaya and Justin Calazzo, is directed by Traci Connaughton. The Sept. 15 performance was seen for this review.

With curtain at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night, dinner, a choice of steak, salmon or chicken as entree, with a salad, and for dessert, cheesecake, is served after an approximate 30-minute first act. The servers are polite and helpful, including Ashton, at the table my guest and I shared with two women from Doylestown. The second act is about one-hour.

The show will be of interest for fans of “Harry Potter,” those interested in an alternative to the typical dinner-theater format, and devotees of improvisational theater. The five actors, who circulate among patrons before the show, prior to the second act, and offer thank-you hand-shakes after the show, are quick on their feet, and adept at including the audience in the fun.

This is a really up-close-and-personal show. The actors circulate in the aisles between two rows of tables and a third row of tables and the bar. Rather than a proscenium stage, or theater-in-the round, this is theater table-side. Four audience members are randomly selected to try on The Sorting Hat.

Unlike at most stage shows, photographs are encouraged, especially via cell phones for social media. The audience is urged to hash-tag Wacky Saturday.

It’s an apt tag. The show is wacky. The actors are costumed along the lines of the “Harry Potter” characters they spoof.

Headmistress O’Donagall, the Headmistress Of Hagmoles (Cubby Altobelli), in the actor’s interpretation, has the grand gesture, slow burn, and exclamatory willowy voice down to a British tea.

Don, the Sidekick (Josh Blakesley), whose attire would otherwise win a holiday season “Ugly Sweater Contest,” successfully portrays a pushy, but likable, twit who doesn’t need Twitter to make his emphatic points, replete with nervous walking and quick gestures.

“My Scottish accent,” Blakesley begins at one point, “unless you couldn’t tell. I though I’d establish that early.”

Hermia, the Minister of Magic (Leia Emmersyn), is probably the most sane of the lot (Or is she?). She invokes a “veddy” proper English accent and a comely, efficient, and no-nonsense presence, advancing the plot to the inevitable conclusion whereby the audience votes in the “Whodunnit.”

Corpulent Lady, a Painting (Kevin Hughes), carries a picture frame around his head in a clever bit of staging and with the actor never breaking character outside the frame, so to speak. Hughes also portrays Snap, Hagmole’s former Potions Master, in a black cloak that further emphasizes the actor’s evoking a his dour countenance. Snaps, for not only Hughes’ quick costume and makeup change artistry during the show, but also for his distinct delineation in giving each character a distinctive, memorable spin.

Henry (Jacob Snively), the Chosen One, is the boy that all the Muggles admire. In college varsity jacket and round-rim glasses, he creates a flappable, affable and eager-to-wheedle personality.

The show includes the actors singing to pre-recorded tracks several songs that thematically fit into the show, including David Seville’s “Witch Doctor” (1958), the Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra” (1982), and The Searchers’ “Love Potion No. 9” (1963).

“The Goblet Of Poison” is especially fun to attend with a group of friends, say, for a birthday celebration (several were celebrating). Go early and enjoy the “Scarecrow Competition and Display,” which you can also vote on, through Oct. 28, outdoors at Peddler’s Village.

Tickets: Cock ‘N Bull, Peddler’s Village, Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, Bucks County,; 215-794-4051