The Secret of the Spoon is a playful mystery dinner show set in an Italian restaurant called Mamma Mia’s. The successful establishment is owned by a passionate and argumentative family, the Pastaluccis. Mama and Papa Pastalucci run the restaurant with the help of their six children: Vinny Fettuccine, Maria Capellini, Angelia Rotini, Sophia Tortellini, Lucia Linguine, and Eddy Spaghetti. Rounding out the restaurant staff are Brandy and Candy as hostesses and Andy the dishwasher.
Unfortunately, Nonni, the feisty but beloved grandmother of the Pastalucci family, has just passed away. While grieving her loss in the middle of the restaurant kitchen, the family discovers that a very special spoon belonging to Nonni has gone missing. Believing this spoon to be the secret of the success of Mamma Mia’s, the family members begin to accuse one another of stealing, hiding, or misplacing the spoon. Despite things heating up in the kitchen, they still manage to serve the audience a three course Italian meal. And thankfully by dessert, the secret of the spoon and its whereabouts have been revealed.
The kitchen of Mamma Mia’s Italian Restaurant
7 Female, 4 Male
Approximately an hour and a half total, including three short intermissions for serving dinner courses
Production Notes (included with the playscript)
The Secret of the Spoon will come alive with a cast of kids who want to have some real Italian-style fun. The greater their sobs, the bigger their hand gestures, the more dramatic their accents, the funnier the play will be. Mama Pastalucci can wave her handkerchief passionately in all directions, Vinny can glare daggers at his sister Maria, and Sophia can cry out and collapse over Nonni’s casket with real abandon. The audience will eat it up!
Just make sure that with all the crying and yelling in the dialogue, that the characters are still understandable. It would be easy for cast members to get a bit too carried away and their lines be lost in the emotion. Definitely have them back off a bit from the crying and yelling if they’re not intelligible. But I will note that at the very beginning of the show, when everyone is entering stage right bawling, you should encourage high dramatics then for two reasons. One, it will blow off some nervousness. And second, it will be clear that this is a funeral in the true style of Italians. These folks are passionate people—especially when it comes to their Nonni!
You’ll want to have your cast practice authentic group argument and exclaiming. There are several times in the script in which everyone is talking at once—sometimes angrily, sometimes sorrowfully, sometimes happily. That needs to look and sound genuine and will likely take some special attention in rehearsal.
For some inspiration, encourage them to watch some movies with Italian characters to get a sense of the “sing-song” style of dialogue. Also, here’s a quick break down of the phonetic spelling of some of the Italian names and foods mentioned in the play so that they can be pronounced authentically:
Molto Bene (MOL-toh BEH-nay)
There’s a fun drama game you can play with your cast to prepare them for the running joke of how many different ways “Mamma Mia” is expressed in the show. Have your cast stand in a circle. One member of the circle must step forward into the center of the circle and walk toward another member of the circle saying “Mamma Mia” in any sort of style they can come up with. The choices are endless. They can say it in a granny voice, in a nervous whisper, in the style of an opera singer, in an angry growl, etc., etc. Once they’ve reached the other person, they take that person’s place in the circle, and send that person out into the center to do the same thing. However, the challenge is for everyone on their turn to come up with a way of saying “Mamma Mia” that hasn’t been said before. Kids seem to love this game, and I am constantly amazed at how many creative ways they can come up with to say just two words.
For center stage, you will need a casket. In my own production of this play, I was able to borrow a real casket from the local funeral parlor. They were more than happy to loan out their “floor model,” and we set it downstage center to the surprise and delight of the audience. It made quite a statement before the show even began! If you can’t get your hands on a real casket, then you can certainly improvise with plywood or cardboard. It will need to be fairly sturdy, though, considering the cast is collapsing on it, slamming their fist down on it, etc.
On stage left, you will need to place a small desk and chair for Papa Pastalucci. On stage right, there needs to be a podium with an appointment book and phone that serves as a hostess station for Brandy and Candy. Also on stage right, it would be helpful to have a small table for Candy to use for folding napkins and a small stool for Andy to perch on. The background can be all manner of pots and pans hung up, shelving with small kitchen appliances, a Mamma Mia’s sign in a window—anything to make the stage look like a restaurant kitchen.
So easy! For most of the cast members, the costume can simply be black pants and a white top. All of the Pastalucci children and Andy the dishwasher should be wearing aprons. Papa Pastalucci can be in a suit and hat, and Mama Pastalucci should be in a black dress considering the family is having a funeral of sorts for Nonni. For the hostess outfits, Brandy should be in a western-style outfit with a pair of cowboy boots, and Candy can be dressed in just about anything nice. You may find that most, if not all, costume pieces will be things kids will already own or can easily borrow. You may have to pick up a set of aprons…but that may be it!
This mystery dinner show is written with three intermissions for the serving of three different courses: the salad course, the pasta course, and the dessert course. The cast members step down from the stage and help to serve each course and interact with the audience while staying in character—something the crowd adores! A simple green salad, an easy pasta dish, and, of course, tiramisu for dessert would be the best choice for the menu.
By the way, don’t be intimidated by tiramisu—it’s essentially just a layered dessert of cake, cream, and grated chocolate. The cake element can be soft ladyfingers, pound cake cut into cubes, or slices of a simple vanilla cake. The cream element can be homemade custard, whipped cream, or pudding. The variations are infinite, and there are plenty of easy tiramisu recipes to be found online that could be made for a crowd. For an even easier option, you may just want to check the bakery section of your closest grocery store. They may be able to order you what you need in an amount that can feed a crowd. A final note: there are recipes available for gluten-free and/or dairy-free versions of tiramisu, if that’s something you’re hoping to offer.
You’ll surely want to recruit a small crew of people who are willing and able to prepare the food for the mystery dinner show and can plate the courses shortly before the appropriate intermission. When it comes time to serve, the cast members can simply pick up a couple of plates ready to go, head out to the tables, set them down in front of audience members, and pick up any dirty plates from the tables.
Obviously, you’ll need to set up the area for your audience with tables, much like a restaurant dining area. And ahead of time, you’ll want to have the tables set with silverware, napkins, and water glasses. Red-and-white checked tablecloths, drippy candles, and old wine bottles used as vases would be great touches, too. Not to mention some Italian music playing in the background!
The character of Andy is out in the dining area during the first scene, filling water glasses for audience members. Depending on how big your audience is, determine whether he’ll need help with this or whether he can manage this task alone. He just needs to be done by the end of the first scene. For his line, he’ll simply shout it from wherever he is in the dining area.
The very best part of this mystery dinner show could end up being the ad-libbing that your cast members do between scenes as they’re serving the audience. But don’t be surprised if, at first, they are a bit nervous about this part of the show. Their anxiety is understandable because improvisational acting is much more difficult than it looks. I encourage you to lower their stress level by assuring them that whatever they’re comfortable with saying while they’re mingling with the audience during service is going to be fine. Because then something magical will happen. If they’re having fun, completely in character, and not feeling any real pressure, you will be amazed with what they will be inspired to do and say! I’ve witnessed some very spontaneous and extremely hilarious ad-libbing in my own dinner show productions, and it’s made for some great show memories for everyone. So keep the improvisation piece low pressure. Keep it fun. Keep it easy. And your cast is bound to knock everyone’s socks off!
Each playscript comes as a downloadable PDF document, and includes an extensive Production Notes section to help with all aspects of the production, as well as an invaluable Organizational Grid with each character’s costume suggestion and any props needed.
With purchase, you are granted the right to copy this script as needed for amateur performances for a period of one year from the date of purchase. More information on the Copyright page.