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

Ever dream about a fantastical world of steam-powered flying machines? How about dueling telegraphs? An army of clockwork duplicates? That’s what we had to dream up for the first show of 2023. Steampunk was the watchword for the design of our latest Master Mystery Production to kick off a season all about transportation. So we sailed with the winds in an airship to explore the boundaries of our imaginations in The Sky’s the Limit.

Louisa Cahill (played by Leslie Blake) reads an authentic newspaper of the period, sourced by Prop Master Ed Kramer

The Sky’s the Limit began as a commission from the Red Hats as a centerpiece entertainment for their annual gathering. Giving us the prompts of a steampunk-themed mystery without murder, we started crafting a tale inspired by early science fiction stories by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. With 2023’s theme this season being transportation, we began fashioning what sort of vehicle could carry out story. An airship felt perfect. And historical research came to our aid when we learned the story of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, two American reporters under different publications who raced to try and beat 80 days to circumnavigate the globe. Nellie Bly came out on top there in 72 days, 6 hours, and 11 minutes. It gave us two excellent characters to start with. We added the eccentric airship inventor onboard, a la the geniuses in Verne novels, to round out the cast.

Sir Hugo (Lex Phillips) brags about the wonders of his homemade airship to an unimpressed Charlotte Collins (Olivia Holm).
Charlotte and Louisa are displeased to see each other on the ship…and even more displeased at the notion of collaborating to solve the mystery.

Sir Hugo Featherton seemed like a wacky knight in shining armor when he offered a ride in his airship, the Vesper, to save the schedules of Louisa Cahill and Charlotte Collins, two rival reporters racing around the world. They’ve missed an important connection and now must rely on this strange man and his even stranger machine to carry them across the Atlantic Ocean. But when they look out of the window, they find their connection still docked in port. Why has Sir Hugo magically appeared to rescue them…when they didn’t need to be rescued? Having to rely on each other’s skills, the ladies will uncover and do battle with a secret society, an international conspiracy, and an inhuman army to find the truth.

Sir Hugo waxes on about his aerodynamic design at the prompting of Louisa, who is hoping to distract him so Charlotte can search the bridge.
Louisa distracts Hugo while Charlotte searches for a telegraph.

Sir Hugo is not what he claims to be…

As the adventure progresses, the secrets exposed grow more ominous. Who…or what…is Nox Volucrum? Sir Hugo doesn’t seem to be…functioning properly? How did he know their editors? What are these strange…people? machines?…in the ship’s cargo hold. Alliances are broken. Traitors are revealed. The twists and turns of navigating this sky-bound mystery will make you question exactly who you can trust and what you can believe. After all, no one is who they claim to be and a shocking, explosive finale rocks the airship. It’s a dynamic, powerful ending that Master Mystery Productions loves.

Encountering automatons in the ship.
A monstrous Hugo beast (Ed Kramer, Lex Phillips, Murolo Patchin) at the April 22 show in Bakersfield
“I am perfected in a thousand ways…” (Rachael West)

Alas, every voyage must come to an end. Closing night is our traditional awards night. First up was The Skeleton Key Award for Service Above and Beyond, our oldest award. Each designed to uniquely reflect the show it was made for, the Skeleton Key Award is a symbol of an individual putting their heart and soul into a Master Mystery Production, going above and beyond their assigned jobs in the show to make it the best it can be. They are inspirations to us in the company, and they remain celebrated in our programs and on our website for years to come. Congratulations Rachael West for winning the Skeleton Key Award for The Sky’s the Limit!

Award for The Sky’s the Limit
Congratulations Rachael!

Following the Skeleton Key, we presented the coveted Diamond Mask Awards for Excellence in Performance. Voted by audiences, guests select their nominees for the award based on the performances they liked best. The actors with the most votes win. On their first win, they receive a special diamond pin and subsequent wins will receive a diamond chain to create a cascade of diamonds. And this award was even more special as the Diamond Diamond Mask Award–the 60th one presented ever. Only one performer won the award for The Sky’s the Limit. Congratulations to Olivia Holm for your historic Diamond Mask-winning performance!

The historic 60th Diamond Mask Award ever presented–known as the Diamond Diamond Mask–received an entirely fresh new look in glitter and platinum to honor the truly sparkling performances of our actors. And the lucky one to claim the illustrious award was Olivia Holm for her performance as Charlotte Collins. Whether she was sassily correcting grammar, engaged in telegraph war with a couple salt-mouthed sailors, double and triple crossing everyone around her, taking on a few extra personalities, and much more, Olivia commanded the role with the conviction and cleverness a Hall of Fame Artist such as herself can deliver. Humor, heart-wrenching, and horror were executed to perfection as Olivia navigated the wild twists and turns of this multi-sided character and performance. And so, the audiences of Bakersfield and Ridgecrest awarded her this history-making prize of the Diamond Diamond Mask. She truly does sparkle like a true diamond in this role. Congratulations Olivia! With this win, she also becomes the first woman to reach SIX Diamond Mask winning roles. Bravo!

And an extra bit of fun history: Olivia got to share the stage most often in this show with the winner of the Golden Diamond Mask–Leslie Blake for Unlucky Seven in 2022. So Gold and Diamond got to shine together in The Sky’s the Limit in a truly magnificent run. Thank you to all our diamonds on the stage for this show. We love you all!

The Partners in Crime Award honors those who make significant contributions to the writing of a Master Mystery Production. Without them, some of our Master Mystery Productions would never see the light of day. Inventing so many concepts for the show such as the fiendish Nox Volucrum and their motives, congratulations Brady Thomas for winning the Partners in Crime Award for The Sky’s the Limit!

Award for The Sky’s the Limit
Congratulations Brady!

Our spring shows are always ambitious, and we’ve launched our 2023 season with a production that showcases the ambition, talent, dedication, and a little bit of wackiness that makes Master Mystery Productions so special. Bravo to the splendid cast and crew who have taken this show and elevated it to a triumph.


We launched our season with a bit of fantasy, but let’s bring it down to earth for a bit with a hilarious, raucous, slapstick road trip mystery where a family of five tourists get lost transporting a special…ahem…piece of luggage to Death Valley. It’s a wild ride on the highway as we gear up for the 34th Master Mystery Production…


Auditions will be announced soon! We’ll see you on the road!

–Master Mystery Productions


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