With the Mum’s the Word premiering to the world starting May 19, 2021, we wanted to share a few fun facts about the show to give you a peek “behind-the-curtain” at the creation of our ambitious radio show and the amazing talent who worked on the production. From award wins to hidden references and inspirations in the script to MMP Easter eggs we’ve scattered around the entire show, this list is full of secrets, surprises, and more. Just like a great mystery novel. Enjoy!
FUN FACTS ABOUT MUM’S THE WORD
*Mum’s the Word was inspired by Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, because the school who commissioned the original show had their students reading those stories for an English class unit on mysteries. While Sherlock does not appear at all in the show, we invented our own eccentric consulting detective.
*Basil Bremerton, our sleuth, got his first name as an homage to the writer/director’s favorite Disney film, The Great Mouse Detective. Basil of Baker Street from that film is also an homage to Basil Rathbone, who also played Holmes.
*MMP veteran Calvin Johnson, who plays Basil in Mum’s the Word, twice before played in Sherlock-inspired plays for other theatres. He played Holmes in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville in 2017 for the Community Light Opera and Theatre Association (CLOTA). Then he played William Gillette, an actor famous for portraying Holmes, in Ludwig’s follow-up The Game’s Afoot; or Holmes for the Holidays in 2018 for CLOTA. This is his third time performing in a Holmes-inspired piece. When it’s right, it’s right!
*Calvin isn’t the only cast member to have gone toe-to-toe with Holmes stories. Both Rebecca Witherell and Grace Lloyd performed alongside Calvin in The Game’s Afoot; or Holmes for the Holidays in 2018.
*The students of MacArthur Middle School, the original clients for the show, were the ones who voted for the Diamond Mask Awards for Excellence in Performance for Mum’s the Word.
*For his outstanding portrayal of Basil Bremerton, Calvin Johnson won his FOURTH Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance. He is the first performer in MMP history to win this coveted acting award four times.
*Rebecca Witherell, who plays Helen Marshall, received her third Diamond Mask Award for her phenomenal portrayal in Mum’s the Word, becoming only the fifth performer to reach this milestone in MMP history.
*Grace Lloyd won her first ever Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance for her lovely and nuanced portrayal as Amelia Brent in the show.
*Natalie Murphy, who plays Amelia’s best friend Daphne Evermore, won her first Diamond Mask Award for her brilliant, heartfelt performance.
*The Skeleton Key for Service Above and Beyond, our award to an individual who has gone the extra mile to make our shows better, was awarded to Lora Robertson, a teacher at MacArthur Middle School who checked our video files, created worksheets and teacher aids for the school for the production, and helped coordinate ALL of the student Diamond Mask votes for us. Congratulations Lora Robertson for your amazing work! And thank you so much!
Characters and Setting
*The character of the News of the World Announcer was created because we remembered actor Jonathan Blair’s impromptu 1930’s radio announcer voice he performed at an audition once just for fun. Sometimes, those little jokes are morphed into entire productions! Anyone remember Eat Cake?
*The setting in an English girl’s school is actually not an homage to Sherlock Holmes stories but to Agatha Christie’s Cat Among the Pigeons. In fact, the character Honoria Whitmore, the headmistress of the Granger School for Girls, is an homage to Christie’s character Honoria Bulstrode, the headmistress of the unfortunate Meadowbank School in that novel.
*The Granger School is an homage to a rather famous English student: Hermione Granger of Hogwarts.
*Helen Marshall in Mum’s the Word gets her name from another Christie character–Linda Marshall from Evil Under the Sun. Fitting for a precocious teenage girl. Another of our characters, Kenneth Evermore, the American businessman, is named after Linda’s father, Kenneth Marshall.
*Amelia Brent, the missing student, got her name as an homage to the famous missing pilot, Amelia Earhart.
*During the News of the World segments, we sprinkled several Master Mystery Productions Easter eggs from past shows of ours. We have references to Goodbye Hollywood, The Last Garden Party, Bury Me in Paris, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind, and more. Can you find and name them all?
*A few well-known MMP props make appearances during scenes in Mum’s the Word. The 1940’s magazine read by Kim Hyatt in What Happens at Sundown makes an appearance. And you might see a cameo of a certain Hollywood actor in an unexpected way. Keep your eyes peeled!
*Mum’s the Word was fully recorded by the cast in one week on their own. The actors sent individual files to us and didn’t work with any of the other performers. We were completely socially distant. However, listening to the end product sounds like we are all in the same room together. That’s the power of brilliant acting. Bravo, everyone!
*Sometimes, when making an audio drama, you’re not sure how your performers will pronounce words based on their own experiences, especially if they’ve never seen the word written before. Some words get a more colorful interpretation (think of genuine pronounced with a long i) which are still valid. Other pronunciations make you giggle a little.
Most surprising pronounced words: Bremerton. And everyone else’s names. Most times, names are the hardest to get uniform and aren’t common words. But our amazing cast nailed the pronunciation of Basil Bremerton every single time without any prior coaching or even hearing the name at all! That’s fantastic.
Most colorfully pronounced word: Thames. The iconic English river received everything from TAYMZ to TEHMZ to TIMEZ.
*Janis Kunz, MMP legend who plays Miss Althea Drummond, also served as the foley artist on the production, creating several sound effects for us. She even had to create unique knocks for three different characters, making sure each one sounded in character and distinct from all the others. After all, how a policeman and a school headmistress knock are very different. Imagine having to get into character to knock properly.
*Janis created the sounds of each of the girl’s belongings when Basil searches for clues. If you listen closely, you can hear them line up beautifully with his lines.
*The oldest sound effect in the production is a knife sound effect created by MMP legend Leslie Blake, originally used in The Silent City.
*Mum’s the Word isn’t the first Master Mystery Production to use voice acting. That honor goes to The Silent City in September 2017. But Mum’s the Word does have one great distinction: It boasts the largest single audio cast in MMP history with eleven brilliant performers.
*The font used in the Mum’s the Word title in the show and promotional artwork is fittingly called Ransom Note.
*A certain beast of legend makes a special cameo during the show. Keep a sharp eye out so you don’t miss him.
There you have it! A few fun facts about our newest show to whet your appetite before the big premiere. Don’t miss out! You can pre-order the show now through Vimeo on Demand using your Facebook account. On May 19, you’ll receive an email when the show is ready to watch. For only $5, you rent the whole show for one week. On May 28, the show closes. Watch our trailer below and click on the video to travel to the show page to rent the show now!
We can’t wait to hear your responses! Happy sleuthing!
–Master Mystery Productions