Master Mystery Productions creates a series of awards to honor excellence in production, performance, writing, and service. We extend our endless gratitude by honoring our many award winners–past and present. We present them after curtain call on closing night. Under each award is a description of it and a list of our winners. Congratulations, everyone, on your fantastic achievements for Master Mystery Productions!
THE AWARDS OF MASTER MYSTERY PRODUCTIONS
The Skeleton Key Award for Service Above and Beyond was first created in 2015 during the production of our second show, Goodbye Hollywood. It is presented by a show’s director to individuals involved in bringing the production to life. These individuals have shown tremendous work ethic, have dedicated his or herself to the show, and have served beyond the call of duty to bring the mystery to the stage. Each Skeleton Key is designed by the Founder of Master Mystery Productions to be unique to each production, reflecting the story’s individual themes. It is a show’s highest honor, and winners are forever honored in future souvenir programs and on our website for Master Mystery Productions.
Not every Master Mystery Production has a Skeleton Key. Some shows are too small or private. Sometimes we don’t have a candidate. So those honored with the Skeleton Key Award set a high bar for everyone who works at MMP, and it is their inspiring work which pushes us to create better and better mysteries.
The Skeleton Key was retroactively awarded to Jeannie Johnson for 2013’s Murder at the Red Fez, which had been honored with the title of the first Master Mystery Production in 2015. She received her award at the closing night of our second show, Goodbye Hollywood.
Bury Me in Paris in 2017 broke tradition by presenting three candidates for the Skeleton Key. All three deserved the award equally, so Master Mystery Productions awarded three Keys at the closing night of the show.
Exit Prima Donna was a unique situation. A first Skeleton Key was awarded not long after auditions to an individual who had went above and beyond in the creation and booking of the show, but sadly moved before she could be a part of the production process. A second Key was awarded to a member of the production team per tradition.
Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind marks the first production where an outside director selected the winners. Monica Dwyer selected two champions for her production.
OUR WINNERS ARE:
Jeannie Johnson — Murder at the Red Fez
Brianne Hardwick — Goodbye Hollywood
Lena Pokol — Goodbye Hollywood: At the Rainbow’s End
Donna Rosenthal — Hello Out There
Margit Stallings — Hero
Calvin Johnson — Ex Luna
Monica Dwyer — The Last Garden Party
Julie Bradford — Pauper’s Grave
Dan McGuire — Murder at the Broken Heart Mine
Katie Cozine, Darren Hoyt, and Heather McGaha — Bury Me in Paris
Nicole Johnson — Ode to Agatha
Leslie Blake — Anonymous
Devanne Fredette — The Silent City
Michelle Stallings — Femme Fatales
Chautona Havig — The Last Chapter
Celese Sanders and Beth Sparks-Jacques — Exit Prima Donna
Olivia Holm — What Happens at Sundown
Michael Stallings — Mutiny on the Sea Witch
Janis Kunz — Eat Cake
Tiffany Cheney — Foul Play
Steven Dwyer and Mark Zanardo — Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind
Sam Johnson — Lenore Nevermore
Davis Kunz — Woman in the Walls
Devanne Fredette — Regions Beyond
Lora Robertson — Mum’s the Word
Martin Murphy — Who’s Who?
Heather McGaha — Closer to Heaven
Jennifer Crittenden — Unlucky Seven
Sebastian Lorenz — Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival
Cat Kreidt and Ed Kramer — Tête-à-Tête
The Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance was created in early 2017 during the production of our twelfth show, Bury Me in Paris. It is awarded by audiences to the actors they believe had the strongest performances during a show. Audiences vote on their favorite performances, and the winners are awarded on closing night. Actors can win the Diamond Mask multiple times, and it is a recognition of their talent and artistry to their roles in a show.
Actors honored with the Diamond Mask receive the symbol of a diamond on their head shot in any souvenir programs for shows they work on in the future. The number of diamonds indicate the number of times they’ve won.
The Diamond Mask was created after Master Mystery Productions received such overwhelming and unanimous praise of Celese Sanders’ performance as Mia Mallowan in our eighth show, The Last Garden Party, in 2016. We realized the time had come to honor the performances of our talented actors and created the Diamond Mask Award. Celese was honored with her Diamond Mask at the curtain call for our fourteenth show, Anonymous, in 2017.
Bury Me in Paris was originally only supposed to have two Diamond Mask winners, but the audience voting was such that three winners were crowned on closing night.
Anonymous ended with a tie in voting, so two Diamond Masks were awarded.
Exit Prima Donna‘s cast and performances were of such a high caliber that there ended up being multiple ties and four Diamond Masks were awarded.
Woman in the Walls is the first and only show where the cast and crew of the production voted for the Diamond Mask winners, due to the show having been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Actors were not allowed to vote for themselves on their ballots.
Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival featured a tie in votes, so a record FIVE Diamond Masks were awarded on closing night.
OUR WINNERS ARE:
Celese Sanders (Mia Mallowan, The Last Garden Party; Krista Erikson/Angelica Hughes, Regions Beyond in “The Opera Ghost”)
Cat Kreidt (“Massimo” D’Amato, Bury Me in Paris; Madam, What Happens at Sundown; Dahlia Rosewood, Foul Play; Genevieve Welbourne, Tête-à-Tête)
Katie Cozine (Flora Westcott, Bury Me in Paris)
Monica Dwyer (Wilhelmina Blake, Bury Me in Paris; Simone Davenport, Ode to Agatha; Madame la Comtesse, Eat Cake)
Nicole Johnson (Miriam Lancaster, Ode to Agatha; Leonora, Exit Prima Donna; Big Red, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind; Big Red, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival)
Matthew Bradford (Agent Race, Anonymous)
Sam Johnson (Agent Sly, Anonymous; Auguste Dupin, Lenore Nevermore)
Challice Neipp (Dorothy Parker, The Last Chapter)
Heather McGaha (Donatella Violetta, Exit Prima Donna; Brigitte the Bawd, Eat Cake; Erin Rochester, Closer to Heaven; Madeline Conrad, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival)
James Aguirre (Giuseppe Rodolfo, Exit Prima Donna)
Rah Herrington (Leonardo, Exit Prima Donna; Vera McGregor, Famous Last Words)
Brianne Hardwick (Brooke Simon, Famous Last Words)
Leslie Blake (Kim Hyatt, What Happens at Sundown; Witness the Fourth, Unlucky Seven)
Ash Witherell (Victoria Camden, What Happens at Sundown; Lady Chantilly, Eat Cake; Helen Marshall, Mum’s the Word)
Devanne Fredette (Cutlass Kate, Mutiny on the Sea Witch)
Jonathan Blair (Coxswain Pierce, Mutiny on the Sea Witch; Frank/Officer Dixon, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind; Frank/Officer Dixon, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival)
Janis Kunz (Polly the Parrot, Mutiny on the Sea Witch; Captain Wallis, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind)
Calvin Johnson (Henri, Eat Cake; Rusty Clementine, Foul Play; Dr. John Forsythe, Woman in the Walls; Basil Bremerton, Mum’s the Word; Bernard St. Bernard, Who’s Who?; Angel Archer, Closer to Heaven; Evan Landon, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival; Yves Dufort, Tête-à-Tête)
Felix Browne (Ivy Greenway, Foul Play)
Olivia Holm (Honey Boudin, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind; Eliza, Woman in the Walls; Mercedes Van Chrysler, Who’s Who?; Hallie Sheppard, Closer to Heaven; Salome Auclair, Tête-à-Tête)
Lex Phillips (Guy de Vere, Lenore Nevermore)
Tiffany Cheney (Claire Forsythe, Woman in the Walls)
Natalie Murphy (Daphne Evermore, Mum’s the Word)
Grace Lloyd (Amelia Brent, Mum’s the Word)
Beth Sparks-Jacques (Georgia Georgson, Who’s Who?)
Daniel Stallings (Gabriel Baker, Closer to Heaven; James “Jimmy Fudge” Ferguson, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival)
Ed Kramer (Erik Lavigne, Tête-à-Tête)
The Partners in Crime Award for Service in Writing was created in 2015 during the production of our third show, Hello Out There, which was co-written with frequent writing partner, C. R. Rowenson. It is given to guest writers who contribute their fabulous talents to the creation of these mysteries as a reward for their talent and skill. Without them, there are no mysteries! Writers are awarded for their first show only. Each subsequent show in listed below their winner entry in parentheses.
OUR WINNERS ARE:
C. R. Rowenson Hello Out There September 2015
Michelle Stallings Foul Play Summer 2019
Monica Dwyer Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind September 2019
The final award presented by the company, the Founder’s Award for a Year of Outstanding Service is Master Mystery Productions’ highest honor, 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 the entire year, and we are eternally grateful for all they do for us at Master Mystery Productions.
OUR WINNERS ARE:
Michelle Stallings — 2015
Red Rock Books — 2016
Monica Dwyer — 2017
Devanne Fredette — 2018
Janis Kunz — 2019
Beth Sparks-Jacques — 2020
Calvin Johnson — 2021
Heather McGaha — 2022
The Master Mystery Productions Hall of Fame, launched for our 5th anniversary in 2020, honors the individuals whose contributions to the company have shown long-standing excellence and have molded Master Mystery Productions in significant and deeply-rooted ways into the theatrical company it has become.
Jeannie Johnson won the inaugural Skeleton Key Award for Service Above and Beyond for Murder at the Red Fez.
C. R. Rowenson won the inaugural Partners in Crime Award for Service in Writing for Hello Out There in 2015.
Michelle Stallings won the inaugural Founder’s Award for a Year of Outstanding Service for the 2015 season.
Celese Sanders won the inaugural Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance for the role of Mia Mallowan in The Last Parden Party in 2016.
Calvin Johnson is the most decorated performer of the company with eleven awards to date: The Skeleton Key for Ex Luna, eight Diamond Masks (Eat Cake, Foul Play, Woman in the Walls, Mum’s the Word, Who’s Who?, Closer to Heaven, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival, Tête-à-Tête), a Special Commendation for Closer to Heaven, and The Founder’s Award for the 2021 season.
Katie Cozine became the first person to win both the Skeleton Key Award and a Diamond Mask Award for the same show: Bury Me in Paris in Spring 2017. The act was repeated by Nicole Johnson for Ode to Agatha in July 2017, Sam Johnson for Lenore Nevermore in October 2019, Heather McGaha for Closer to Heaven in May 2022, Cat Kriedt for Tête-à-Tête in Fall 2022, and Ed Kramer for Tête-à-Tête in Fall 2022. Nicole and Sam are also the only family members (mother and son) to have earned this honor.
Monica Dwyer became the first performer to win two Diamond Mask Awards–one for Wilhelmina Blake in Bury Me in Paris and one for Simone Davenport in Ode to Agatha. She also became the first performer to win two Diamond Masks in a single production year (2017).
Rah Herrington made history by being the first performer to win multiple Diamond Mask Awards–one for Leonardo in Exit Prima Donna and one for Vera McGregor in Famous Last Words–in her debut production year (2018).
Devanne Fredette is the longest-performing actor for Master Mystery Productions, having been in fourteen shows total: The Last Garden Party, Bury Me in Paris, Ode to Agatha, The Silent City, Exit Prima Donna, Famous Last Words, What Happens at Sundown, Mutiny on the Sea Witch, Eat Cake, Lenore Nevermore, Regions Beyond, Mum’s the Word, Unlucky Seven, and Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival.
Devanne Fredette made history by being the first person to receive three different awards at a single show: the Diamond Mask for Cutlass Kate in Mutiny on the Sea Witch, the Blood, Sweat, and Tears Award presented by Ridgecrest Community Theater Troupe for Mutiny on the Sea Witch, and the Founder’s Award for 2018.
Janis Kunz is the first and only puppeteer to win a Diamond Mask Award, which she did as Polly the Parrot in Mutiny on the Sea Witch in 2018.
Heather McGaha and Daniel Stallings are the only performers to repeat venues with their Diamond Mask wins. Heather won for Donatella Violetta (Exit Prima Donna) and Brigitte the Bawd (Eat Cake) performed at Amargosa Opera House and for Erin Rochester (Closer to Heaven) and Madeline Conrad (Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival) at Moe’s Music. Daniel won for Gabriel Baker (Closer to Heaven) and James “Jimmy Fudge” Ferguson (Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival) performed at Moe’s Music.
Monica Dwyer became the first performer to win three Diamond Mask Awards (Wilhelmina Blake, Bury Me in Paris; Simone Davenport, Ode to Agatha; Madame la Comtesse, Eat Cake).
Felix Browne earned the Silver Diamond Mask Award, the 25th Diamond Mask ever awarded, for his role as Ivy Greenway in Foul Play in Summer 2019.
Calvin Johnson became the first male performer to win multiple Diamond Mask Awards with wins for Henri in Eat Cake and Rusty Clementine in Foul Play, both in the 2019 season. He then became the first male performer to claim three Diamond Masks following his win as Dr. John Forsythe in Woman in the Walls.
Jonathan Blair is the first performer to win a Diamond Mask Award for a double role when he won for playing both Frank and Officer Dixon in Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind in September 2019.
Monica Dwyer became the first person ever to win all of the major Master Mystery Productions awards: The Skeleton Key, The Diamond Mask, The Partners in Crime, and The Founder’s Award, which she completed in four theatrical seasons (2016-2019).
Tiffany Cheney, Calvin Johnson, and Olivia Holm are the only three performers to win Diamond Masks through cast and crew voting instead of audience votes, due to the production of Woman in the Walls being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Devanne Fredette became the first person to win the Skeleton Key Award twice–once for The Silent City, a live production, and once for Regions Beyond, a digital production. She is the only member of the company to win the award for both live and digital shows.
Calvin Johnson became the first performer to win four Diamond Mask Awards after winning for Basil Bremerton in Mum’s the Word in May 2021.
Grace Lloyd and Natalie Murphy are the only performers whose Diamond Mask Awards are for solely a digital production–Mum’s the Word in Spring 2021.
Calvin Johnson became the first performer to win five Diamond Mask Awards after winning for Bernard St. Bernard in Who’s Who? in November 2021.
Olivia Holm became the first woman to win four Diamond Mask Awards after winning for Hallie Sheppard in Closer to Heaven in May 2022.
Calvin Johnson became the first performer to win six Diamond Mask Awards after winning for Angel Archer in Closer to Heaven in May 2022.
Heather McGaha is, to date, the only performer to win multiple Skeleton Key Awards for live productions only–Bury Me in Paris in 2017 and Closer to Heaven in 2022.
Leslie Blake earned the Golden Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance, the 50th Diamond Mask ever awarded, for the role of Witness the Fourth in Unlucky Seven in July 2022.
Monica Dwyer is the first outside writer to receive a revival of her work–Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind in 2022.
Jonathan Blair and Nicole Johnson are the joint first and so far only actors to repeat a Diamond Mask winning performance for the same role in both a debut and a subsequent revival production of a show–for Frank/Officer Dixon and Big Red respectively for Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind (2019 and 2022).
Calvin Johnson became the first performer to win seven Diamond Mask Awards after winning for Evan Landon in Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind 2022 Revival in October 2022. He then became the first performer to win eight Diamond Masks after winning for Yves Dufort in Tête-à-Tête in Fall 2022.
Olivia Holm became the first woman to reach five Diamond Mask Awards for Excellence in Performance with her win for Salome Auclair in Tête-à-Tête in Fall 2022.
Calvin Johnson became the first performer to win three Diamond Mask Awards in a single season (2022).
All award names and award images are the property of Master Mystery Productions.