Evenings To Kill For

Evenings To Kill For ON THE TOWN -- April

ON THE TOWN -- April

A crack of the pistol, bewildering clues, a corpse or two. . . it's murderous fun, onstage, only in N.Y.C.

"The bullet hasn't been made that can kill me" were the famous last words of Jack "Legs" Diamond, shot dead in 1931. His delusory words possessed a prophetic quality when viewed in light of New York theatre. There, murders are committed nightly only to find the victims unscathed at the following evening's performance.

On Broadway murder is always in season. Consider the popular Andrew Lloyd Webberized homicides a la The Phantom of the Opera and, more recently, Sunset Boulevard. The deluded silent film star that is Norma Desmond (played with impassioned humanity and a soaring voice by Betty Buckley) walks a fine line between reality and madness, but by the end of the evening her reality has become too much for her to handle, and that smooth-talking Joe Gillis had better watch his back, literally. (Minskoff Theatre, 200 W. 45th St., 212-307-4007.)

Off-Broadway has seen it's share of dirty dealings and foul play, but none has persisted like Perfect Crime at the Duffy Theatre, the longest running non-musical play in N.Y. history. The play explores the perfect crime, when an avaricious psychiatrist is accused of killing her wealthy husband only he is very much alive the next day. The detective on the case starts to fall for his prime suspect, and her deranged patient starts to make sense, but the twists have only just begun. (At the Duffy Theatre, 1553 Broadway at 46th St., 212-695 3401.)

For the proper precursor to an evening of theatre, mystery lovers in search of the latest best-seller or a beloved out-of-print edition may browse about Murder, Ink, a bookstore dedicated solely to this genre. There are a million ways to go, and Murder, Ink carries them all. (At B'way & 92nd and other N.Y.C. locations.)

A faultless finale apres-mystery-theatre is a decadent dessert. The Oak Room at the Plaza stays open late to accommodate your debauchery. Their line-up includes the famed cheesecake, chocolate mousse, gelato tartuffe and other dishes you could simply kill for. (Reservations are not required after theatre, but jackets are; 212-546-5330.)

-- By Jennifer Lanter