Thursday, February 19, 2015

To Host A Murder Mystery, The Game Is A Foot So You Might Need A Shoe

So you would like to host a murder mystery event but really don't know where to start. Here are some basic tips and ideas to get you started and point you in the right direction.

The first thing you will need is to cover the 3 P's:

  • Product - what type of event would you like to host? A play? A Game?
  • Place -where you can host your event?
  • People - who will help you and participate?

  • Deciding on what type of event you want to host will help narrow down your other choices. If you would like to host Murder Mystery Play, it will require a good size place and extra people to perform. If you wish to host a Mystery game, you can host in your own home or find a small venue that will not require many extra people to help you.

    What are the differences between a Play and a game?
    A Play is a theatrical performance with actors, a set, props and a script.
    A Game is generally an outline or scenario with participants .

    Hosting a Murder Mystery Play

    You can find many resources for play scripts on line. My own site, Play-dead is one of those resources. It is very easy to purchase performing rights for a play. A play of course will require a group of people ranging from actors, to a director, costumes and props. If you do not have a theatrical group,here are some ideas:

  • Local Community Theater group- Check in your area or search on line. Most communities have amateur theatrical groups. The benefit of community theater groups is that it's a volunteer based organization.
  • Local Colleges and High schools- Most schools have theater departments or personnel that may be willing to stage a play for you.
  • Create your own Group- You may have a theatrical background or know someone who does.
    If you don't wish to stage a play yourself, you can also find groups on line that supply their own acting troupe and Murder Mystery Plays.

    Hosting A Murder Mystery Game

    You can find Mystery Games on line that come in all shapes and sizes. Some are set for dinner parties with elaborate plots which include kits with all the material you need. Others are very simple with a set of rules and basic plot. Most Murder Mystery games involve everyone, much like a role-playing games. You will not need any theatrical performers, just yourself and your guests. Each individual Mystery Game site will explain how the game is played, what you need etc..

    Resources for Murder Mystery Games:

  • Murder Mystery Games

  • Mysteries On The Net

  • Free Form Murder Mystery Games!

  • Finding a Place

    If you prefer a more theatrical Murder Mystery or don't wish to host a game at your home, you will need to find a venue. Finding a place is really not difficult. My home group started out performing Mysteries at a local Historic Mansion, moved to a Community Center and finally found a home at Banquet Facility. Many popular Murder Mysteries are based in a Dinner Theater setting. The idea of a dinner and show is very appealing to audiences.

    Venue Ideas:

  • Local Community Center / Theater - check your local area most Centers have a theater or large room for rent.
  • Local High School - many will rent theater space to you.
  • Local Historic Homes - many Historic Homes in large cities host murder mystery plays.
  • Banquet Halls - sure, their main business are weddings and reunions but they offer ample space plus most have their own kitchens or catering services so Hosting a "Dinner Theater" would be perfect.
  • Hotel Conference room - many large hotels have conference rooms perfect for hosting a play.
  • Restaurants - some restaurants have "party" rooms that supply enough space to host a dinner theater.

  • If you choose to create your own theatrical troupe you will of course need a place to rehearse the play. If you have secured a location that will let you perform the show, they may also let you rehearse there. If not, there is nothing wrong with a good old basement or garage. My local group spent years rehearsing in basements.

    Promote Yourself

    Local newspapers have calender sections strictly for Theater auditions and performances. Smaller local papers and publications are always looking for interesting stories, so call the paper and see if they would like to do a story. If you have a website, Blog,  Facebook, or twitter by all means, promote your performance. Best yet make a short video and post it on youtube to attract attention - (here is an example )

    Extra Bonus idea Contact local businesses in your area to see if they would like to purchase an ad in your program. Leave a few pages free in your program for his purpose. Selling advertisements will generate added revenue. Another idea is to see if the businesses would like to donate any items, gifts, coupons etc.. as prizes for your play. At the end of the evening whoever guesses the "murderer" will receive a prize from a local business plus this business gets a free promotional plug. Hopefully these tips will get you started in the wonderful world of Murder Mystery Hosting!

    -Lee Mueller

    Play Dead Murder Mysteries

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Liberty Center High School Drama Department Renews The Process

    Hold the presses. OK yea, presses are a bit heavy...so just set them down in the corner over there.

    "I'm Getting Murdered In The Morning" is being performed at 3 locations.

    Per my good friends in Ohio I received this announcement: "Liberty Center Drama Department cordially invites you to the wedding of the month as Brenda and Eddie (the popular steady) are getting married....and mayhem abounds!
    I'm Getting Murdered In The Morning at Liberty Center High School
     Getting Murdered In The Morning 
    I had the great pleasure to visit Liberty Center Ohio last year around this time when they were in rehearsals for my play "Murder Me Always". I realize for student actors it's always a little surreal to have the person who wrote the lines you are speaking on the stage to be sitting there watching you. I have been in similar situations where the playwright sat in on rehearsals and watched as I interpreted his dialogue, trying to convey (hopefully) what he meant. I must say, most of the playwrights I have met were pretty laid back and didn't furiously take notes or scream that it was all wrong!!! Many writers, including myself have an understanding that once their ideas/words fill a page, they are gone. What we had envisioned will very rarely sound and look exactly as we imagined once it is interpreted by someone else.
    I always believed if we as writers do our job correctly, directors and actors will realize the scope of any character we created. The will understand the emotion and tempo of a scene and if we are fortunate, actors will pick up the slightest nuances we etched into our words.

    Of course, with Murder Mystery Comedies, most of the characters are painted in very broad strokes. I do not mind if an actor takes a character and runs in a new direction with it. Sure, it may not be what I originally imagined but it may be better than I would have thought. Much in the same way a music composer may be delighted at a jazz interpretation of his simple tune. (Tea for Two by Oscar Peterson and Lester Young for example.)

    An old favorite quote of mine is "Art is the process not the product" and that holds true for many playwrights. Our art is in the process of writing - creating characters who speak and interact with each other through conflicts and finally resolve everything at the end. (sometimes)
    Once we are done, we have a product called a "play". One the great things about our art is that once it is handed off, it becomes a process (art) all over again for actors. A self renewing art form.

    I'm Getting Murdered In The Morning at Liberty Center High School
    Liberty High School Drama department will be renewing the process of art November 13th through 15th. A close approximation of my imagination will occur at 103 W Young St, Liberty Center, OH 43532. Oh and there will be a cake and punch reception Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights at 7:30 in the Little Theatre, Liberty Center. All tickets are $8.00 and may be purchased at the door.

    Friday, October 31, 2014

    Upcoming Play Dead Murder Mystery Events

    “I’m Getting Murdered in the Morning" is being performed in 2 locations in November. First on Thursday, November 6th at 6:00p it will appear at Holiday Inn & Suites on 3950 Walden Road in Beaumont, TX.

    he interactive show, presented by the Port Arthur Little Theater, invites the audience to guess the killer’s identity. Guests are invited to wear wedding clothes. The event includes dinner and a cash bar. Tickets $60 per person, tables of 10 $650.

    Proceeds benefit Southeast Texas Special Olympics athletes. For reservations, call (409) 833-1363.

    The play will also be presented by Bishop McCort Catholic High School’s drama club in Johnstown Pennsylvania. The show will begin at 6 p.m. Nov. 14 and 15 at the school’s Bach Center at 25 Osborne in Johnstown.

    The fun spoof features all the elements of a wedding reception with a twist – a murder. “This show is a great vehicle for a family friendly evening, complete with dinner and a show,” said Jean Arcurio, Bishop McCort’s theater director.

    “The guests, or audience members, will get to participate in the reception fun as well as try to help solve the murder.” Wedding guests will join in dancing, catching the bridal bouquet and the garter toss, and have wedding cake for dessert. Actors will perform at various locations right among the audience, and the audience will participate in plot events. “Other actors will blend into the audience,” Arcurio said. The performance will be accompanied by a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    "Death Of A Doornail" at Owego UMC

    Performances will be on Friday, November 21st and Saturday, November 22nd at 6:00pm at Owego United Methodist Church. Owego New York. Tickets will be $15 each in advance. Tickets will go on sale Sunday, November 5th. This year we will be presenting a hilarious comedy entitled "Death of a Doornail" by Lee Mueller.

    Eccentric Millionaire, Albert Doornale has invited all of his close friends to his estate; including his ex-wife Abigail, his current fiance Candy Bombay, and his childhood friend from the lower East Side, Salvatore Carbone. Everyone arrives at the estate greeted by the grumpy butler, Mortimer and cutlery carrying cook, Mrs. Morganford. The only problem is, Albert is not there, no one has seen him. Not his nerdy nephew Edward or his socially spoiled daughter, Pricilla. None of the guests have any idea why they are there or what happened to their host. That is until blood is found in the upstairs bathroom. Was Albert killed and carried away? In the nick of time, Inspector Bukowski arrives on the scene. A murder investigation will begin, as soon as a body is found. It may be a long wait!

    If you haven't you don't want to miss this one. Bring your friends and enjoy a night of fun, food, and fellowship. For more information contact the church office at 607-687-2417.

    Thursday, October 16, 2014

    Community Art Players present "Death Of A Doornail"

    Community Art Players in Salisbury Missouri will perform the murder mystery comedy "Death Of A Doornail" November 8th at 6:30pm (with dinner and dessert) and November 9th at 12:30pm (with dinner and dessert) at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Salisbury, MO. Details can be found here Community Art Players

    Monday, July 28, 2014

    "Basic On Stage Survival Guide For Amateur Actors" - learning the hard way is easy

    Spending countless years on the amateur community theatre circuit, I have seen my share of  first time actors with sheer panic in their eyes. You see, one of the nice things about "Community Theatre" is that it is open to anyone and everyone. Experienced or not. Many times the case it not.

    And since I had a plethora of productions under my belt, these acting noobies would seek me out with a multitude of questions ranging from; "What does 'Blocking' mean?", "Does stage right from my right or the audiences right?" "Why is it called upstage and where is upstage?" "How in the world do you memorize lines?" et al. Therefore, I would become the self appointed mentor to all first timers.

    A few years ago the idea crossed my mind to document all the basic bits of information a first time actor would need to know to feel comfortable on the stage. A literal "Survival Guide" for the novice actor.
    So I began writing what would become "The Basic On Stage Survival Guide For Amateur Actors".
    As I began writing down items such as what to expect at an audition and how the rehearsal process can be a very tedious event as well putting a halt to any social life you may have had - it also occurred to me that there are many "rules" of theatre an actor must learn a long the way. Yes rules. I must say that I as an evolving stage actor learned many of the rules the hard way. Example, I recall getting a 15 minute lecture from a director because in a particular scene, a pencil rolled off a desk and remained on the stage until the act break. "If it falls, pick it up!"  There is a strange psychological dynamic with audiences - if something falls on the stage, a button pops off an actors coat and lays there, a feather from a boa floats to the floor, a pencil rolls off a desk, the eyes of the audience will focus on the thing laying on the floor until someone picks it up. Many virgin actors believe it they don't acknowledge or look at something laying on the stage, no one else will see it. Not true! Trust me. Save yourself the 15 minute lecture. If something falls, it is perfectly natural to pick it up. Don't ignore it.

    There are also rules about upstaging your fellow actors; literally by standing in front of them or metaphorically by stealing focus by waving to your mom from the stage. There are rules about not turning your back and not standing in a straight line and so on and so forth. As I said, I learned these rules the hard way. When you are a brand new participant in a stage production, there isn't a rule book handed to you nor is there much time to go over everything you should know. Many directors will assume you have some basic knowledge since you are showing at the auditions but that is not always the case.

    I wrote this book with all of this mind. I have to provide the most basic nuggets of information any first timer would need to know if they choose to venture into theatre. In some cases, I have worked with so called season professionals that could use some of this information. Anyway, if you are interested trying out for a local production and would like a head start in the theatre essentials - check out my book. And remember if you purchase and drop it on the floor. Pick it up!

    Here is the link on Amazon Basic On Stage Survival Guide

    Monday, April 21, 2014

    "Talk About A Murder" in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin

    Rogue Theatre in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin will present "Talk About A Murder" May 1st - 4 and added show on the 9th

    Not in Wisconsin or can't attend? Then read the play - Click Here for details in paperback and Kindle 

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    "I'm Getting Murdered In The Morning" Brandon Manitoba

    Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School Dinner Theatre in Brandon Manitoba showcases the diverse talents of our students. The dinner theatre production of "I'm Getting Murdered In The Morning" by Lee Mueller.

    It takes place at the 1970s wedding reception of a wealthy debutante who has just married her fourth husband. The groom is a young man with modest roots whose recently widowed mother has become rather wealthy. However, during the boisterous reception, things take a turn for the worse and the resulting action will keep guests both laughing and in suspense. 

    To accompany the entertainment, the award-winning Culinary Arts Department at Crocus Plains will be preparing a delectable three-course meal. Please inform us of any special dietary concerns when purchasing tickets.
    Seating is limited to 80 guests per evening so be sure to get your tickets as soon as possible. Tickets are $25 per person and are available at the front office of Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School. Advance sales only.

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    Upcoming "Getting Murdered In The Morning" in Chattanooga

    Getting Murdered In The Morning
    Closed Door Entertainment will present "I'm Getting Murdered In The Morning" on March 14th-15th, 2014 Dinner at 7pm, Show at 7:30pm at Abba's House Faith Building in Chattanooga Tennessee. 

    What's the Story? - During the garter toss at Brenda and Eddie's Wedding Reception, a mysterious man falls dead on the dance floor from a gun shot. Luckily the bride's father -the wealthy Harold Montague -invited Damage control expert Mr. Parker to the event. Parker tries "spinning" the murder as "nothing to worry about" but Society columnist Mary Berger insists "something be done". Something like - hold the presses because this could be the "Society Scandal" of the year. Not only was a man shot during the garter toss but it seems the mysterious Dead Man has ties to both the Groom and Bride's family. Secrets that both sides do not wish to reveal. None the less, with some persuasion of Mr. Parker, the reception continues as planned and the Murder Mystery takes a back seat. For a while. 
    Dinner served will be Venetian-stuffed chicken, mushroom-cheddar orzo, roasted asparagus, Mediterranean salad, garlic rolls, and dessert with your choice of sweet tea, unsweet tea, and water to drink. A vegetarian option is available upon request at the time tickets are purchased.

    Tickets are $22 per adult and $17 for students/seniors. Children 5 and under are free.

    Friday, February 14, 2014

    Upcoming Productions "Last Call At Chez Mort" Glens Falls

    Glens Falls Community Theatre will be presenting “Last Call at Chez Mort,” a murder mystery dinner theater production, February 14-16 at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls New York.
    The Friday and Saturday shows begin at 6 p.m. The Sunday matinees begin at 1 p.m.
    Tickets are $45 per person and include dinner and the show. Tickets go on sale Monday, January 27, in the lobby of the Queensbury Hotel. Box office hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and up until show times on performance nights.

    “Last Call at Chez Mort” tells the story, in flashback, of an as-yet unsolved murder years ago, when the glamorous and tres chic nightclub Chez Mort was the place to be. A detective who worked the case and the newspaper reporter who broke the story retrace their steps to determine who killed Sweet Sue, an up-and-coming performer with limited talent and unlimited ambition. The show is filled with unsavory characters and dazzling wordplay. The audience will see the action unfold through the eyes of several people, and the audience will have to determine just who is telling the truth and, ultimately, who perpetrated the dirty deed.
    The cast and crew of “Last Call at Chez Mort” includes SueD’Angelico, Dave Deeb, Stacie Lucas, John Wayne Macri, GinaSidway, Shelby Rae Wellington, P. James Carrolan, and LizWinge.
    The show is written by Lee Mueller and directed by Peter J.Carrolan. Glenn Dorman will serve as musical director.