Post Mortem: ANONYMOUS

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The cast of Anonymous

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

On August 19, as summer dwindled down, we unmasked one of our most complex and unique interactive mysteries in our history.  The concept was extremely original, unlike anything done by interactive mysteries before, let alone our company.  A scavenger hunt mystery where guests got to eavesdrop on the actors involved in secret conversations.  It was an exciting concept, yet totally untested.  There was no way of knowing whether the planned show–Anonymous–would work.  On August 19, our fourteenth Master Mystery Production opened to a packed house, and we’d finally learn if our crazy ideas would work.

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They did.  Anonymous opened to a sold-out crowd, as well as to our largest audience yet.  With nearly 100 people in Red Rock Books that night, the energy was up, happy, and ready to hunt down our fictional thief.  It was a night filled with high energy and excited guests as they were ready to crack their code and eavesdrop on our secret agents.  But what they learned while doing so could cast some serious doubts about the righteousness of their mission.  Are the A.R.A. all they claim to be?  It was a case of not judging a book by its cover.

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When Agent Battle dismissed the newly recruited A.R.A. (Artifact Retrieval Agency) operatives after their Mission Brief, the audience divided and conquered, searching every inch of the store for twelve fiendishly hidden clues in their scavenger hunt.  If they cracked the code of the Rosetta File, they would have received the answer “Under the World.”  The answer to the bonus clue challenge was “Children have the world in their hands.”  Both referred to a globe in the Children’s area of Red Rock Books, underneath which was the listed of coded clues for the scavenger hunt, the locations of certain secret pieces of evidence.

And solving the third part of the Rosetta File with a key hidden in the hunt revealed the unifying theme of all the clues: pseudonyms.  After all, “Anonymous” is the world’s oldest pseudonym, traced back to Ancient Greece.

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As they hunted for clues, the guests would stumble upon scenes performed by our actors and listen in on the conversations they had.  Secrets, theories, and general attitudes would unveiled.  Who was Anonymous?  Why couldn’t Dr. Fleming crack the code?  Why didn’t Sly work harder?  Why was Paxton so paranoid?  And why did Battle have a “personal vendetta” against Anonymous?

But things really came to a head when, at the end of the second act, murder reared its ugly head.  Shocking the crowd, the victim performed a “death march” with the infamous horned magnifying glass sticking out of his stomach, (fake) blood oozing out, hand outstretched desperate for help.  The reactions from the crowd were priceless.

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Once the ballot deadline was called, we judged the entries to see who was able to unmask Anonymous.  Once we determined a winner, we set for finale.  It was an moment where the air felt filled with electricity.  Who was Anonymous?  Who cracked the code?  Who was the murderer?  How?  Why?

The finale went off without a hitch.  Our actors performed for their lives to the enthusiastic response of our audience.  A tense confrontation ensued, Anonymous revealing himself to the murderer, a showdown for the ages.  There were cries of “I knew it!” from the crowd followed by shocked gasps as the murderer lunged at Anonymous with the horned magnifying glass, intending to drive it into his heart.  A brief struggle; You didn’t dare blink in case you missed anything.  What happened?  Ah…that is a secret we must keep.  But when the show ended, the audience burst into applause and loud cheers.  Another huge success for Master Mystery Productions!

Agent Battle Reveals Weapon
Photo courtesy of Julie Bradford

The cheering continued as we announced our winners.  Not just the winner of Anonymous, but our six award winners presented at curtain call as per tradition.  First was our oldest award–The Skeleton Key Award for Service Above and Beyond.  It is given to a member of the production who has gone above and beyond and exceeded our expectations with their work and dedication to the show.  It’s a show’s highest honor.  Congratulations Leslie Blake on winning the Skeleton Key Award for Anonymous!

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The Skeleton Key Award for Anonymous
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Congratulations Leslie!

Then it was the Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance.  Audiences vote for their favorite performances at the end of the show, and the winners receive a special pin for their first win.  Any subsequent wins receive a diamond strand to add to the pin which will create “a cascade of diamonds” for multi-award winners.  It is a recognition of all the brilliant work our performers put into their roles.  Anonymous was special given that there was a tie, so two Diamond Masks were awarded for the show!  Massive cheers followed the announcement of the winners.  Congratulations Sam Johnson and Matthew Bradford for your award-winning performances!

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The Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance
Sam
Sam Johnson’s hilarious, energetic, totally committed take on the slippery and cunning Agent Sly left smiles on everyone’s face. Comedic, yet crafty, his portrayal instantly captured the audience’s attention and their admiration. Bravo, Sam, on your Diamond Mask Award for Agent Sly in Anonymous!
Matt
Theatrical newbie no more, Matthew Braford’s heartfelt performance as Agent Race was a big favorite including a masterful finale performance that impressed everyone, especially his director. Dedication, passion, and a willingness to learn and grow mark Matt’s performance as we congratulate him on a well-deserved Diamond Mask Award! 

Ah, but there was a special surprise in store that night.  We had a special guest in the crowd.  She was the one who inspired the creation of the Diamond Mask Award.  In 2016, she gave a performance so iconic, so brilliant, so sensational that audiences are STILL talking about it over a year later.  Seeing the huge outpouring of adulation, we knew it was time to honor actors for their acting, and the Diamond Mask was created with this actress being declared its inaugural winner.  We wanted it to be a surprise, so we waited until she came to one of our shows as a guest.  At Anonymous, in front of a sold-out crowd that was out largest yet, we finally got to bestoe her long-overdue award.  Congratulations Celese Sanders, the first Diamond Mask champion for your hilarious and genius performance as Mia Mallowan in The Last Garden Party!

Celese
Celese Sanders’ ingenious performance full of wit, humor, passion, and perfect timing as Mia Mallowan in The Last Garden Party was an instant crowd favorite.  Her seance scene has become legend, and she is still recognized for the role after all this time.  Her legendary performance inspired the creation of the Diamond Mask, and we honor her as its inaugural champion.  Congratulations Celese and beautiful job!

And there’s still more!  We introduced a new award at Anonymous, the highest honor Master Mystery Productions can give.  We call it The Founder’s Award.  The Founder’s Award for a Year of Outstanding Service is given only once a year to an individual, organization, company, or business that gives above and beyond excellence in service to Master Mystery Productions over the course of a production year (January through November).  Each award is styled after our classic logo: the golden magnifying glass on a black field.  The Founder’s Award rewards those who possess commitment to help better our company and our shows over an entire year, and we are eternally grateful for all they do for us at Master Mystery Productions.  Congratulations Michelle Stallings for winning for 2015 and Red Rock Books for winning for 2016!

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Founder’s Award for 2015
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Founder’s Award for 2016

At the end of the night, we could still hear the audience cheering for us in our ears.  It was a wonderful, magical, mysterious night.  Anonymous broke records as well as rules.  It featured the largest audience yet.  It marked the first time in our history where we sold out back-to-back (the other one being Ode to Agatha in July 2017).  And it featured the largest curtain call awards ceremony yet with six awards handed out to very deserving individuals.  We at MMP thank everyone who has been a part of this show–from actor to audience member–for making Anonymous one of our amazing success stories.  We love you all, and we can’t wait for the future!

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“All right, agents.  Dismissed.”

And speaking of future, that’s where we’re headed in our next Master Mystery Production.  The year is 2063.  The place: the seemingly abandoned city of Ridgecrest, quarantined by the government for decades.  Earthquakes have cracked the ground.  Drones patrol the border.  And one group is determined to penetrate deep into the blockade to find out why the city was left to die.  Part of Weird Weekend 2017, our latest show features the first solo writing project of frequent collaborator, C. R. Rowenson as well as the voice talents of many of our favorite performers in a tense thrilling adventure into…

THE SILENT CITY

Tickets go on sale early September.  They will be $20 each and will be the closing act of Ridge Writers’ fifth annual Weird Weekend.

Let’s make it a hat trick!  We hope to see you there!

–Master Mystery Productions

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