Long a professional actress, Karen Hokanson (RVHS Class of 1999) is moving into the producer's chair for a new show in the Twin Cities: The Dinner Detective.
Karen Hokanson knows about stage fright.
When the 1999 RVHS graduate was performing in the school’s production of Guys and Dolls, “I had to hit Jim Schnobrich over the head every night with a sugar (breakable) wine bottle every night,” she said this week from her Minneapolis home.
“Every night I wondered, ‘What if this is a real wine bottle this time?” she laughed.
This month Hokanson is experiencing stage fright of a different type. She is the owner and executive producer of The Dinner Detective, Minneapolis, which opens at the Hotel Minneapolis on Oct. 26.
After graduating from RVHS, Hokanson majored in theater in college. She spent the next few years shuttling back and forth between Richmond, Virginia, Connecticut, Chicago, and New York for different roles.
In addition to making small appearances on TV shows such as 30 Rock and what she describes as “off-off-off-off-off Broadway” plays, Hokanson has performed in such shows as The Music Man, South Pacific, The Glass Menagerie, A Man for All Seasons, and A Christmas Carol.
Several years ago, in Chicago, Hokanson played a role in The Dinner Detective, which she describes as “an interactive modern-day whodunnit.”
The concept is simple. The audience members arrive for dinner at a restaurant, then find themselves caught up in the middle of a murder mystery taking place all around them.
“There are no costumes; the performers are dressed like everyone else in the audience,” said Hokanson. “Everyone is a suspect, and it’s tricky trying to figure out who is a part of the show, and who isn’t. It’s theater in the round — the show is going on all around you.”
Currently, The Dinner Detective has franchises in 24 cities across the United States, including Las Angeles, Dallas, San Diego, Milwaukee, and Omaha.
But not Minneapolis....
“The longer I was with it, it got to a point where I said, ‘Can I make a living with this?’” Hokanson said.
“I did a lot of research and in the end, producing a version in Minneapolis was a no-brainer for me. Minnesota is part of my home roots, and I have family all over Minnesota.”
Besides, Hokanson admits, “I was tired of living out of a suitcase.”
She and her husband bought the rights to host a Minneapolis franchise, moved to the Twin Cities, and settled in to produce the Minnesota version of The Dinner Detective.
“Our show is set in the Hotel Minneapolis, an old bank,” Hokanson said. “It has a cool, vintage vibe, with marble pillars and polished bank vaults.”
Currently, Hokanson is finishing the process of casting nine actors and technicians to run the show on a rotating schedule.
“I’m excited, and terrified at the same time. Casting is extremely stressful. It’s definitely a different feel being on this side of the table,” she laughed. “It’s completely consuming my life. There’s always something else to do, something else to get better at.”
For more information and to book tickets, visit: www.thedinnerdetective.com/sites/minneapolis/ or call the Box Office at 877.445.5442.