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Tag Archives: interactive murder mystery

Will I Ever Kill Again?

I am making a Throwback Thursday Post and I do not care if I throw back to something I have revisited several times. There is always the chance I will think of something new to say about it.

I was more lush than luscious.

This is me as Ruby VanRensaeleer, who may or may not have murdered Benny the Bootlegger. I have many times alluded to Rubbed Out at Ruby’s, the interactive murder mystery I wrote for LiFT, Little Falls Theatre Company, in 2017. I can’t help it. It is such a delightful memory, and I so miss doing theatre, especially murder mysteries.

Another fabulous group of suspects.

This was the cast of Engaged To Be Murdered, presented in association with Ilion Little Theatre. It was the last time I did not act in a murder mystery. After that, if I write it, I am going to be in it!

No, THIS is a fabulous group of suspects!

Here is an action shot from the performance of Fabulous and Fatal, the drag queen murder mystery we did for the Herkimer County Historical Society.

I guess I have not found too much new to say, but I think I have selected different pictures from the ones I usually share. My Thowback Thursdays often involve theatre memories, but, after all, drama is my life! (I say it with gestures.) I can only hope to be making more memories soon.

Trying for a Smile on Throwback Thursdsy

How about a nice Throwback Thursday post?  I hope I do not use pictures I have used too recently, but they will be pictures I have used before.  And there is a good chance I will say the same things about them.  Maybe I can think of something new.  Let’s see.

One of the all time greatest casts I have worked with!

I went back to March 2017 and found this gem.  It is the cast of Leading Ladies, the play I directed for Ilion Little Theatre in the spring of 2016.  Perhaps you read a few of my blog posts about it.  I SO look forward to getting together with my theatre friends again!

There’s trouble at the speakeasy!

This picture was also in March 2017, and is also from a wonderful theatrical experience, Rubbed Out At Ruby’s, an interactive murder mystery I wrote.  We were scheduled to present it again in April as  fundraiser for RCIL, but, alas, it has been postponed.

At least he looks relaxed!

This was the first picture I noticed, of our much missed late pooch, Spunky.  I wasn’t going to use it, because I thought it would make me feel too sad.  Then thinking about theatre experiences past and not knowing when I will have more…

Come, come, this will never do.  I do not mean to make a blog post purely to moan and groan about how depressed I feel!  That won’t help anybody.  Let me see what is in March 2018.


Here’s some theatrics that may bring a smile!  We were making a DVD on the Right to Bare Arms, for the Herkimer County Historical Society to use at a Celebrity Roast for Marc Butler in 2015.  It was great fun.

That is what I strive to do: keep a smile on my face.  There really is a lot to smile about.  The other stuff I can’t really do much about.  At least I can keep making my daily post!


Murderous Mental Meanderings.

I do not think it is any too early for this blog to become All Spring Into Murder All The Time.  I have six days to get my act together!  AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!  OK, got that out of my system.  I have just time for a fast Monday Mental Meanderings post before rehearsal.  And I just thought of my headline. I bet I’ve used it before.  Well, these things happen.  We must make the best of them.

I just walked to the library to print out a sort of a program for Saturday night’s performance.  I say a sort of, because it only lists the character’s names with a short identifying phrase.  No actors’ names, not even the title.  After all, WE don’t know there is going to be a murder.  It is always a little disconcerting when an audience member says, “So there’s going to be a murder tonight”  or, worse yet, “We’ve never been to one of these before, what are we supposed to do?”  I don’t want to break character (as we actors say), but I also don’t want to leave people in the dark and/or rudely not answer their questions.  We find ways of dealing with these things.  That is part of the fun of live, interactive theatre.

Yes, I am tired and definitely feeling Monday.  Luckily, I am not driving to rehearsal but bumming a ride from my friend, Kim.  She is very tired too, but I hope to keep her awake enough to drive with chitchat.  I am rarely too tired to chat.

The murder mystery, once again, is Spring Into Murder, at Morning Star Methodist Church at 36 Second St., Ilion, NY, 5 p.m. Saturday, April 28.  $20 includes a delicious roast pork dinner (I know this, because they feed the actors and this will be the third one we’ve done there).  Advance tickets must be purchased by Thursday by calling 315-894-4093.  You can go to the Facebook Event for more information.



More Murder and Mayhem!

I believe I have mentioned that I have another murder mystery to write.  I may also have mentioned (once or twice) that I have been having trouble writing ANYTHING lately.  Well, just now I surprised myself.  I wrote a brief overview of said mystery, to send to the venue for publicity purposes.  The venue is Morning Star Methodist Church in Ilion, NY, and the performance date is Saturday, April 28, 2018.  They are serving a roast pork dinner, which was quite delicious when we performed there last year and the year before.

So I have been writing this mystery in bits and pieces, and second guessing myself about everything.  I tried writing the overview twice on breaks at work today, to no avail.  Finally I sat down at my laptop and said, “Well, I’ve got to do this now.”  And here is what I wrote:

Spring into Murder takes place at the kick-off dinner for the Tulip Festival sponsored by Two Lips Cosmetics. The founder and CEO of the company loves everything to do with The Netherlands, so much so that she changed her first name to Holland and hired a bodyguard named Dutch. On the agenda for tonight is the unveiling of the spring line of lipstick colors, to be modeled by Holland’s spokesmodel and partner, the beautiful Ariel Angelica. Holland is accompanied by her new husband, Rod. Also on hand are Holland’s nephew Benedict and recently adopted daughter Windy, as well as the designer of this year’s colors, the brilliant if eccentric Giselle Ellison.

Unfortunately, all is not beauty and harmony at Two Lips Cosmetics. Rumor has it that Holland did not want to take on Ariel as a partner, that Benedict wanted Windy to be the spokesmodel, that Giselle feels badly paid for her work, and nobody knows quite what to think of Dutch. Additionally, we don’t know who sent Ariel a bouquet of BLACK tulips!
There may be murder before the night is out! Who will solve the crime?

I was rather pleased with it myself.  The new husband got his name as I wrote it, and Giselle Ellison (my part) changed from a dedicated secretary to a lipstick designer.  I think diva is much more fun than downtrodden.

Having written that much, I feel fired up to get the whole thing done.  I’ll share more information about the performance — times and prices — when I know more.


It’s My Secret

I thought I would give another plug to Secrets at Suiter House, the murder mystery dinner theatre to benefit the Herkimer County Historical Society.  The event will take place at Ilion Moose Lodge, 302 Barringer Rd., on March 31.  Doors open at 5 p.m.  $20 per person includes an all you can eat spaghetti dinner.  There will also be a Chinese Auction with some really good prizes.

It is one week from Saturday!  Yikes!  I still don’t know what I’m wearing!  And there are a few more props I need to gather!  And does everybody in the cast know about the next rehearsal?

Oh dear, that was not a plug.  That was me dithering and probably did not leave a good impression.  I must correct that.  This murder mystery will be a lot of fun.  There are some good laughs in the script, along with some intriguing clues and local references.  Actually, the whole script is local.  It concerns a wealthy philanthropist (played by me) who is sponsoring the next exhibit at the Herkimer County Historical Society (whose museum, of course, is located in the Suiter House).  The dinner is a contest to decide who will be the curator.   Naturally there are a few hard feelings amongst the would-be curators, and EVERYBODY has a secret or two.

I last heard some 20 tickets were still available.  Are they still?  I don’t know!  For more information you can contact the historical society at 315-866-6413.


Right before Ruby’s!

This may be a very short Scattered Saturday post, because I have not done that much today.  In my defense, I feel I must recruit my energies for Rubbed Out at Ruby’s (all together now:) the interactive murder mystery to be presented by LiFT Theatre Company at the Overlook Mansion in Little Falls, NY… TONIGHT!!!  That is, Saturday, Feb. 25 starting at 6 p.m.  Yikes!


Kind of a suspicious looking bunch, aren’t we?

This is a cast photo taken at the end of last night’s rehearsal. Yes, that outline is all that is left of our beloved Benny the Bootlegger.  Oh how I shall miss him!  (I did mention that Ruby is a terrible lush, didn’t I?)  Rehearsal went very well, but I cannot help but have a few butterflies before a performance.  Additionally, everybody will know I wrote the damn thing.  I mean, not just you, my lovely blog readers.  My name is right there on the front of the program:  Created by Cynthia Quackenbush.  I am so flattered, but the pressure is awesome.

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of the front of the program to share.  In fact, I stole the above pic from Facebook.  I forgot to bring my Tablet to rehearsal.  However, I did manage to steal a picture of the inside of the program for your delectation:


We don’t look any less suspicious in close-up, do we?

Hmm… this is turning out not to be a Scattered Saturday post after all, but one last plus for Ruby’s.  I don’t see a problem with that, do you?  Happy Saturday, everybody.


Murder Most Different

OK, so I did not write a blog post while at work today, because I spent every break working on a murder mystery.  I LOVE writing murder mysteries!  I feel so clever when I am inventing characters, deciding on their relationships and problems.  When I realize this one wants to do dirt to that one, or the other one loves this one but yet another character knows the dirty little secret of…  you get the picture.

I actually have three mysteries to write with varying requirements for each.  Today I was working on one that is particularly intriguing, because the format is different from what I am used to.  What I usually write is dinner theatre:  the actors mingle with the audience during cocktails then have an actual, rehearsed performance in which all the clues are presented.  The murder I worked on today will be almost completely interactive, with the audience seeking clues throughout several rooms.

I will have to figure out how the murder was committed and, more importantly, how somebody might figure out who did it, how and why.  What clues will be found?  Where will they be?  How did they get there?  Where do they lead?  Can they possibly MISlead?  How about a nice, juicy red herring or two?

However, for me, everything starts with the characters.  I know who will be the victim of the first murder (I think we’ll have more than one corpse during the evening, just to keep things lively).  I started thinking of who the other characters will be.  Soon I had several people identified by roles:  the guy that runs the speakeasy (did I mention that it is a 1920s theme?), the madame of the brothel, the proprietor of a rival speakeasy…   Once I had given everybody a name, things got really fun.

Soon I will have figured out what everybody thinks of everybody else, who hates or loves whom, who did dirt to whom (I do mean “whom” don’t I?  How embarrassing that I am not sure).  I write a lot of random notes then try to organize everything.

Hmmm…  I seem to be babbling on without a whole lot of specifics.  Well, I will give more specifics on these mysteries when I know more about the where, when and how you can get tickets.  In the meantime, I hope I have intrigued my local readers and entertained those farther afield.  If so, I say good work for a Tired Tuesday.


Whatever Happened to Finish That Novel May?

So I wrote part of a blog post at work today, not a Mohawk Valley adventure but a silly commentary, and I did not think it was contemptible.  Unfortunately I did not finish it.  I wrote till one break was over, then on the next break I found I could not continue.  I turned to another page and started to write another lament about my writing woes.  I got a sentence and a half before it started to bore me.  No other blog topics presenting themselves, I turned to a completely fresh page and started writing notes on yet another new novel.

I have a very bad habit of continually starting new novels but never finishing them.  On the other hand, my rule for myself is to Just Write.  Do you suppose I ought to make up some more rules for myself?  If my new rule is Finish What You Start, I am going to be writing for a LONG time.  If I can even find all the novels I have started.  Now I am reminding myself that I also have to finish the banana play.  As well as another play that I had written almost all of (and I think the plot is pretty damn good on that one) (but perhaps I flatter myself).

It is not the least bit surprising that I am so good at writing interactive murder mysteries.  They play to all my strengths.  And they are short.

Ah, I can just hear somebody taking a breath to say, “Write short stories!”  Well, I won’t, because I don’t like short stories. Oh, I know, many people adore them and they are a highly respected art form.  I just don’t like them.   I could write a whole blog post on why, but what does it matter?  There is no accounting for tastes.

So this is my Non-Sequitur Thursday post.  If only I could think of a punchy headline, I would be reasonably content.  And if I can’t think of a good headline, at least I made a blog post.  I’ll work on that silly commentary more tomorrow.


On with the Murder Mystery!

It looks as if the murder mystery dinner theatre I’ve been working on is going to happen.  That is good news, since I finally know who the murderer is.  I was working on it today instead of writing a blog post.  So instead of my usual Wuss-out Wednesday, I thought I would write a little about how I create these murder mysteries and call it a Mid-week Mental Meanderings.

I often start with the setting.  Obviously the setting is the dinner the play takes place at, but why are we all there?  Just a dinner party?  A hoity-toity fundraiser for some some charity beloved by rich folk?  Rich folk are often involved.  For one reason, it gives us actors a chance to wear our most fabulous outfits.  For another reason, it’s fun to make fun of rich people.  I often have a few false starts, but that’s OK.  No mental effort is ever wasted.

What finally got me started on this one was a glimmer of a character.  I wanted to include a woman who was somebody’s aunt and preferred to be called by her full name:  Awnt Theodora.  That is not a misspelling; she pronounces it “awnt.”  Naturally there must also be a character who insists on calling her Ant Teddy (again, that is not a misspelling).  This is the sort of thing that goes over much better in a play than in a book.  In the play, we’ll all just say “ant” or “awnt.”  I won’t have to explain anything.

I decided Theodora and her niece must be hoity-toity rich people of the Old Money variety.  The character who keep mispronouncing her name would be the niece’s fiance from the wrong side of the tracks, perhaps the son of a nouveau riche cattle rancher.  The reason for the dinner could be their engagement party.

And so it began.  Soon I had the number of characters I wanted and I began to add the details.  Who dislikes whom and why?  What secrets are people hiding?  This part is a lot of fun.  The rest of the process is pretty fun, too, only it’s not as easy.  I have to make choices and figure things out.  There is a lot of brain work, a lot of sitting and thinking, a lot of writing and crossing out, and quite a bit of blank-page staring.

I fear that to go through the whole process will be longer than, well longer than I feel like writing right now.  However, I think what I have so far will be an OK post for today.  I’ll write more about the Murder Mystery Process in future posts.  And I have made a discovery: writing about writing is even more fun than writing about not writing.