In the spirit of classic who-dunnits like Clue and Sherlock Holmes, Bella Mia brings to San Jose an opportunity to help solve a theatrical murder through their popular mystery dinner theatre.

The idea is this: during pre-dinner mingling and throughout a gourmet three-course meal, professional actors drop hints, clues and character-developing insights, making the audience part of a murder scene. It’s the audience members’ job to ask questions and use their own detective powers to determine who the murderer is and why the murder took place.

The performance is scripted, but the audience is encouraged to collect clues and the cast masterfully uses audience questions and suggestions to drive the plot.

“It’s interactive,” says Bella Mia general manager Dave Grice, “but people can participate or not participate as much as they’d like to.”

Put on by the celebrated Gibson House Mystery Performers, mystery dinner theatre offers a break from the routine with some investigative crime-solving alongside a nice meal. Prizes are awarded to the first few people to solve the crime and according to Grice, the whole thing is really well-done.

“The actors do a really nice job,” he says. “You can sit down, have dinner, have cocktails and watch a show that’s put on by some pretty talented actors.”

Offering one mystery dinner per month, Bella Mia’s upcoming show, Murder Among the Stars, in which “Madame Zodiak is poisoned before your very eyes,” is on Friday, September 23. Admission is $64 per sleuth and advance reservations are required.

“The mystery dinners are a lot of fun and they’ve been quite well-received” says Grice. “People really enjoy themselves and leave having had a really good time.”