Salmon Arm students hone acting chops in Haney whodunnit

Local talent brings Mystery of Dutch Charlie to life at RJ Haney Heritage Village

By Barb Brouwer


It was murder; murder in the first degree; maybe second, maybe third.

But whodunnit?

This is a problem young Jennie faces when she turns a corner in modern-day Salmon Arm only to arrive at a seedy saloon in 1885.

Dressed in a tank top and shorts, Jennie is aghast to discover she is not only in unfamiliar surroundings, she is subject to dire accusations by the nefarious Dutch Charlie and his accomplice Belle.

Will Monty the Mountie help Jennie prove her innocence, or will he cart her away to Kamloops?

The humorous Mystery of Dutch Charlie is the 2019 Villains and Vittles Dinner Theatre production at R. J. Haney Heritage Village.

This family friendly tale is the 10th written and produced by talented local playwright Peter Blacklock. As always, the production features fictional characters but is based on true accounts and historical references.

Blacklock spends many hours researching the subject of his dinner theatre productions and passes on his acting experience to his cast.

The play also holds true to another Haney tradition – the four students who make up the cast.

Read more: Haney to serve up gourmet burgers, craft beer and Pete Seeger tribute

Read more: Villains and Vittles serves up mix of local history, mystery and murder

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Meet Tirzah Vetter, longtime Just For Kicks dancer and fan of musical theatre, she has appeared in several productions and puts a comedic twist on the lusty Belle.

Charlie, her boss and partner in crime, is played by Rhys Middleton, who recently played the lead in Salmon Arm Secondary School’s production of Fame Jr.

Middleton brings the sneaky, sniggering Charlie to the stage but at the end of the season, will head to UBC in Vancouver to pursue studies in science.

Sarah Johnston portrays poor, worried Jennie well. A fan of theatre, she would like to pursue a career in the arts, even while she recognizes the challenges of often irregular pay in the field. She will return to SAS as a Grade 12 student in the fall.

Monty the Mountie is played by hilarious, high-flying Raymond Hubscher, who earned his glider and fixed-wing licences through air cadets.

A veteran of several high school productions, Hubscher attends Okanagan College and Northern Spirit Martial Arts Academy, with the hopes of becoming a biomedical engineer and martial arts instructor.

Another veteran of high school and Villains and Vittles productions, Just For Kicks student teacher Tamlin Vetter helped with the choreography for The Mystery of Dutch Charlie.

Vetter is thrilled to be furthering her love of performing by attending Simon Fraser University to pursue a major in theatre arts this fall.

This year’s production is further enhanced by back-up music provided by more than 25 members of the Shuswap-Strings Ukulele Orchestra, who take turns performing in the house band.

Villains and Vittles Dinner Theatre is held at 6 p.m. every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on the beautiful grounds of Haney Heritage Village and Museum. Check in is between 5 and 5:30 p.m. but guests are invited to arrive as early as 4 to browse historical buildings, the Montebello Block, which houses the museum and several storefronts, and stroll lovely gardens as long as they check in at the administration building first.

The play is held in the outdoor amphitheatre when the weather allows, or inside the heritage church if it rains.

Reservations are required and guests are invited to book early as the show often sells out. For more information, go online to or call 250-832-5243.


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