Good dinner theater?
Special to the Savannah Morning News
By John Stoehr

Tom Coleman wasn't a fan of mystery dinner theater until he saw "Who Wants to Kill a Millionaire?" Then, he was hooked.

When he moved to Savannah recently to start up the Savannah Community Theatre, he brought the dinner theater with him and so far it's been a hit not only with tourists (as was intended) but also with locals (not quite what he expected, but a good thing nevertheless).

We caught up with Coleman after a rehearsal of "Showtune," the mainstage summer musical presented by the Savannah Community Theater.

Diversions: What's the story behind the making of "Millionaire?"

Tom Coleman: There's this guy named Lee Adams in St. Paul, Minn., who's the funniest guy I've ever met. He wrote this show with a detective lead. He ran it at the Holiday Inn there for 10 years. He's written about 35 of these and, if you ask him, about six of them are masterpieces.

Div: What did you like about it?

Coleman: What I love is that I'm not a fan of who-dunnits and accosting the audience and doing things that you can figure out. This one actually has character development and a plot with a beginning, middle and end. They are farcical and they are silly and when I saw it, I nearly laughed my head off.

Div: So it did the trick?

Coleman: Yeah, so I took a chance and called him one day to ask if he'd be willing to let the script out. I talked him into giving me a copy. It was so popular in Athens (where Coleman was formerly the director of the Athens Creative Theatre) that I wanted to bring it here and see how it was received.

Div: It's been running every weekend for months now. What's the reaction been?

Coleman: Reaction has been hilarious. I feel it's an alternative option from doing what tourists typically do, but the Savannah people have also been coming to see the show. I think they end up bringing friends and visitors from out of town.

Div: How about the cast?

Coleman: We have three rotating casts with many of them coming from Tybee Island. You know those Tybee people are a zany bunch. It actually works out really well, because this kind of theater takes a certain kind of craziness. It requires something over the top, and those Tybee people are just insane.