Fashion Victim: The Making of Femme Fatales (Part 1)

Skeleton Key Winner Heather McGaha as Willow

The life of a supermodel can be deadly as our latest interactive mystery, Femme Fatales, is going to explore.  The style of storytelling in our latest Master Mystery Production was more than just glamorous and fashionable shots.  We wanted to imbibe and pair these images with some backstage emotions–distress, fear, anger–and vague yet potent secrets brewing behind frozen, photographed eyes.  We needed a model who wasn’t afraid to tackle this project, who was ready and willing to dive into the crazy things models did for fashion imagery and what we do for Master Mystery Productions.  Learn about the face of Femme Fatales and what we plan to do with our model in this behind-the-camera post!

FASHION VICTIM: The Making of Femme Fatales (Part 1)

When we first got the booking from the Red Hats, their idea started as a riff on CLUE where their guests would play a rainbow of suspects, each inspired by a different color.  Naturally, we didn’t want to do a rip off of the classic game, so we asked them to give us a concrete theme, something we could infuse our own creativity into.  The theme they gave us was a fashion show.  Now the Red Hat Ladies could dress from hat to heel in bold colors and strut their stuff on the catwalk.  But what mystery would these femme fatales try to solve?


When we think of a fashion mystery, who would be the most likely victim?  Almost instantly, the idea of a murdered fashion model came to mind.  One of our passions in terms of mystery writing is to show the raw, real emotion behind the veneers of classical glamour, to show the occasional ugly behind the pretty.  These are concepts we used in various iterations in shows such as Goodbye Hollywood, The Last Garden Party, and Bury Me in Paris.  Now we wanted to take a gorgeous model, a deadly secret, and the raw emotions of fear and distress and mix it all up in a murderous mystery.  Because sometimes glamour is dangerous.

To pull this off, we needed a model who was also an actress and unafraid to try the crazy things we needed for the perfect shot.

Heather McGaha as Chantal (Bury Me in Paris, 4/8/17)

When we held our model casting earlier this month, we weren’t looking for a specific “type” of person.  Height, weight, ethnicity…none of that mattered.  What mattered was if the model had instincts in front of camera, if they were open to coaching or directing, if they had a positive spirit and were willing to try things, and if they understood how to portray emotion on camera.  We needed someone who wasn’t afraid to pour pink paint on their head or wear a trash bag, but also feel vulnerable enough to portray great distress or fury or even lie on the ground strangled by another’s hand.  By chance, we ended up choosing a very skilled actress who worked with us previously this year.

Heather McGaha was the lucky lady chosen to portray the supermodel Willow.  Not only does she photograph exceptionally well, she is an award-winning performer, having won the Skeleton Key Award for her work on Bury Me in Paris (Spring 2017) where she had a very limited time to take on and perfect the role of Chantal for the closing night performance.  Beyond Bury Me in Paris, she has a long sting of theatrical credits in plays and musicals such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion in Winter, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, RENT, Guys and Dolls, Private Lives, As Bees in Honey Drown…the list stretches on.  A consummate and talented professional, Heather has already proven to be a huge asset to Femme Fatales, which will be her second Master Mystery Production.

The face of Femme Fatales

As the photo shoots happen and the final pictures get produced, we’re already extremely excited about our latest show.  Speaking of which, how did we design a mystery with no words?  See why a picture becomes the most valuable clue of all in the next backstage installment–Snapshots: The Making of Femme Fatales (Part 2)!

Be sure to stay tuned for more!

–Master Mystery Productions

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