Post Mortem: ODE TO AGATHA

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Welcome to Post Mortem!  This is where Master Mystery Productions looks back on the performance of its most recent show.

We spent our summer holiday back in the English Countryside we remember from past shows like The Last Garden Party and Pauper’s Grave.  But instead on Victorian spoof or Gothic melodrama, we went with a bright, happy, carefree, silly, and sometimes sinister British summer fete in honor of Hercule Poirot, his creator, Dame Agatha Christie, and their first adventure together, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  So we strung up the bunting and streamers, played a few rounds of our Christie-inspired carnival games,  slipped on our excellent mustaches, and used our little grey cells to celebrate our lucky thirteenth Master Mystery Production, Ode to Agatha.

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Gorgeous decor by Margit Stallings

And it was very lucky indeed!  From the outset, we were a little worried about how well Ode to Agatha would do.  We knew our love of Dame Agatha Christie, but would it translate to others?  Was there still enough interest or love for the Queen of Crime to do a show?

We didn’t need to worry.  Our cast was brilliant from beginning to end, embracing the project wholeheartedly, bonding together as a cast should, filling the night air during rehearsals with laughter, and focusing on giving our audience one hell of a show.  And what about our audience?  Were enough people interested to attend?

Oh yes.  OH. YES.

Sold Out

With two weeks before the show premiered, we sold out and started a long waiting list.  We opened up an additional table and within a week, all those tickets sold out.  Word of mouth was on our side as we broke records with our ticket sales for Ode to Agatha.  And we hadn’t even had our press preview yet!  When we did, the reviewer gave us a standing ovation for the show, calling it “a deliciously nasty little treat,” “witty,” and “hilarious.”  Outstanding!  And our deepest gratitude to everyone who came to see the show!

Reviews

And so on July 15, the 100-year anniversary of the crime in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, we opened our British fete meets interactive murder mystery at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church to a packed house of happy, excited audience members.

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Fun and games at the outdoor fete.
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Pin the Mustache on Poirot
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Sold-out house!

It was a festive and fun-filled afternoon of games, food, drinks, and surprises.  Our guests first got to play several Agatha Christie-inspired party game at our outdoor fete.  Featuring games such as Pin the Mustache on Poirot, Death on the Nile (a beanbag toss similar to Bell Tower), The Moving Finger (a Ring Toss race), Three Blind Mice (a rubber mouse tossing game), Cards on the Table (a guessing game) and a selfie booth where guests were encouraged to wear fake mustaches and pose for selfies for the chance to win a prize package.  We heard laughter and cheers throughout the games.  Before a single line was spoken by our actors, audiences told us this was a wonderful show.

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But the real show happened once we moved indoors.  After sampling our buffet, guests gathered in seven teams named after beloved Christie stories: Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, Evil Under the Sun, And Then There Were None, The Body in the Library, Sparkling Cyanide, and the novel of honor–The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  Once situated, the show began. The scene: Preparation for a midsummer church fete in an English village.  The characters: Members of the slightly snobbish wealthy elite of the village (and one unexpected American guest).  The crime: Murder.  For Simone Davenport, the feisty, flighty, and fabulously rich mistress of Shayle Court has toyed with the purse strings too long and someone decides to cut them–and Simone’s life–short.

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Once Simone is found dead, she returns from the grave to seek vengeance for her murder, being the driving force behind the teams’ motivation to solve the crime.  As her spirit commands the crowd to ask questions, the other five suspects are ready for the third degree.  Teams interrogated our characters, trying to piece together from a complex series of clues (and at times, “altogether too much poison”) a solution to whodunnit, how, and why.

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The cast of Ode to Agatha

Our cast handled the questioning with cool confidence (and lots of shady remarks) which kept the energy lively and entertaining.  We made them laugh and whisper theories to each other, keeping them on their toes every step of the way.  The questions were adroit, sharp, and very intelligent, making even our cast work extra hard to answer each one perfectly so as not to give anything away.  After all, only the murder was allowed to lie.

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Audience response and reviews were amazing and super positive.  Everyone had an absolute blast at the show.  One audience member told us that “Detective Poirot would be impressed.”  We at MMP are honored to hear such a thing.

In the end, four teams came perilously close to the truth behind Simone’s death.  It was nearly a coin toss.  The finest of fine-tooth combs was used to sift through the ballots.  Finally, Team Evil Under the Sun was declared the champion sleuths of Ode to Agatha.  Congratulations!

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Huge applause for Ode to Agatha!

But there were more winners to follow!  Not only did we announce the winner of the guessing game, but Master Mystery Productions had its traditional curtain call award ceremonies for the cast and crew of Ode to Agatha.  Starting with one of our oldest awards–The Skeleton Key Award for Service Above and Beyond.  The Skeleton Key is awarded to individuals who donated extra time and help and work beyond the call of duty to help mount these shows.  These winners hold one of our highest honors, and we at MMP are forever grateful for their work.  And our winner for this show was most deserving, serving as hand model, furniture mover, packer, cleaner, and even a nanny simply because she loved this show.  Congratulations Nicole Johnson for winning the Skeleton Key for Ode to Agatha!

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The Skeleton Key Award for Ode to Agatha
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Congratulations Nicole!

But wait!  There’s more!  Our newest tradition for our cast shows is The Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance.  Audiences get a chance to vote for their favorite performers at the end of the show.  Those actors are awarded the Diamond Mask as a recognition of their hard work and brilliance in their performances during the show.  Actors can win the Diamond Mask as many times as they can.  For Ode to Agatha, we crowned two champion performers for their sterling and stunning portrayals that truly stole the show.  Mega congratulations to Nicole Johnson and Monica Lorenz for your scene-stealing and award-winning performances!

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The Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance
Nicole
Nicole Johnson’s sweet Southern rendition of the bookish Miriam Lancaster, her sparkling stage presence, and joyous sense of humor brought smiles to every face. Bravo, Nicole on your Diamond Mask win!
Nicole is also only the second performer in MMP history to win both the Skeleton Key and the Diamond Mask in her debut show, the first being Katie Cozine in Bury Me in Paris. Huge congratulations!
 
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Monica Lorenz gave us another sterling performance as the eccentric, witty, self-absorbed, but always fabulous Simone Davenport. She emceed the show to perfection and was a brilliant Assistant Director. Kudos on stealing the show again for your SECOND Diamond Mask win after winning for Wilhelmina Blake in Bury Me in Paris.
With this win, Monica has become our most decorated performer yet! Congratulations!

There is no such thing as a perfect show, but Ode to Agatha comes pretty darn close.  We had a marvelous time putting this production together, nothing but bright smiles the whole way.  What a joyous show to have as our lucky thirteenth, and we can’t thank everyone enough for all they have done for it.  An army of people put on this tribute to the greatest mystery writer in the world, and we couldn’t be happier with the result.  A truly one-of-a-kind and magical show.  Thank you.

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Take a bow!  You’ve earned it!

Did you miss a chance to see our sold-out summer spectacular of Ode to Agatha?  Never fear!  We have just the mission for you!  A legendary thief by the code name Anonymous has stolen a priceless manuscript and hidden it in the nooks and crannies of a neighborhood bookstore.  You will be playing secret agents trying to crack the codes and puzzles Anonymous left behind.  But as you snoop and eavesdrop on your senior operatives, you may learn some things you weren’t expecting.  Join us in an after-hours scavenger hunt adventure through Red Rock Books where what you find…may not be what you seek in…

ANONYMOUS

Tickets for Anonymous go on sale Monday, July 17 at Red Rock Books!  Tickets are $15 each which includes a code booklet for guests to solve to give them a bonus clue in solving the mystery.

We hope to see you there!

–Master Mystery Productions

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