A Wild New Year’s Eve at B’nai Emunah


The lights twinkled, the votive candles glowed where they decorated the black satin tablecloths, the bubbly flowed, the mirrored ball reflections dappled the dance floor, the silver and black balloons dotted the ceiling, the 1940’s music drifted across the room. The guests walked through a tinsel curtain and entered the Pitz Supper Club on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1954. Suddenly, the lights went out and three shots rang out. There were screams and the lights went back on. Sammy Fenetra, lead singer for Lou Gumbardo’s band The Loyal Geraniums, was dead.

That was the scene at B’nai Emunah when the hands of time were turned back to when the building was a nightclub. Guests came in period costume:  furs, cat glasses, hats, boas, long gloves, fedoras, and cigarettes galore. There were the eight suspects (played by Kirk Whitlatch, Seth Prosterman, Art Rosenberg, Susan Tauber, Kathy Fenton, Linda Wertheim, Frank Kurtz and Bonnie Lindauer) and the undercover federal agent, Marriott Mess, played by Sharon Bleviss. Who done it? Was it Lou Gumbardo himself? Or was it Roxy Romano, owner of the Pitz? Giovanni Fishi, reputed mob boss? Mary Rose Looney, songstress? Betty “Boom Boom” Baxter, drummer? Tony “Ivory” Ivanski, pianist? Shirley Fedora, hat check girl? Or Richmond Dalley, mayor of the Windy City?

Investigative teams pored over clues and interviewed the suspects, stopping for food and drink and an occasional dance (and chocolate cigarette). No stone was left unturned. Three gun shots? Three bullets? Then, a radio announcement with a news bulletin. Were they any closer to solving the crime?

As midnight neared, the revelers grabbed a glass of bubbly, sang Auld Lang Syne and counted down as the mirrored ball was dropped (just like in Time Square!) After a brief rendition of Happy Birthday to Frank Kurtz, the teams resumed their analyses. Finally, it was time for each team to present their findings. Who? How? What was the motive? Were they working alone? When all the teams had finished presenting, Marriott Mess announced the details of the murder and handcuffed the perpetrator: Tony the pianist, AKA Kirk. The plot was thick and the details many but the investigative teams were clever! It was all about a hit man and the mob boss and a mole and the mayor and…

Who will ever forget Linda in her revealing Roxy costume? Or the look of the social hall as a lounge? It was a magical evening of great fun. If only we had remembered the keys to the handcuffs…

Thanks all and see you next year!

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