S: Murder Through the Ages
1: Murder Through the Ages | by Amber Rose Deschamps ACU Honors College, Spring 2011
2: Honors college Murder Mystery 2003 | A Murder is Born | In 2003, the Honors Students' Association, in conjunction with Dr. Jonathan Wade, were trying to find a way to bring Honors students together through fun and laughter when they had a sudden stroke of brilliance. Why not have a Murder Mystery Dinner and let friends and strangers figure out a crime together? The idea stuck, and the first Murder Mystery Dinner, A Banquet to Die For, was born. Over the years it has grown from a mystery in a can to an honors student written, directed and acted event that entertains ACU students from all over campus.
3: Cast Detective: Dr. Johnathan Wade Lillian Preston: Joy Rimmer Edward Preston: Brett Deaton Cerise Preston: Amanda McConnell Elanor Vanderbilt: Elizabeth Carnasky | A Banquet to Die For | Corin O'Riley: Curtis Merritt William Lakey: Adam McDonough Gigi Eclew: Adrienne Harper Greg Van Slyke: Chris Bourland Valerie Chambers: Melissa McClanahan | Murder Mystery 2003
4: Clockwise from top left: Gigi uses her charms to convince the audience of her innocence. The Detective hurriedly jots down notes while listening to the suspects chatter about the night's deadly events. Disillusioned and drunk, William (the estranged half-brother) chats with some guests about his absent father's death. An incredulous Gregory Van Slyke argues with the audience about his guilt.
5: Top Left: William attempts to lighten the mood by offering the audience some good spirits. Middle: The victim's future son-in-law, Corin O'Riley, attempts to win over some of the guests to disprove his culpability. Bottom Right: A cool and collected Cerise Preston attends to the guests after her father-in-law is murdered.
6: The vicious gossip, Valerie Chambers, attempts to prove her innocence with some smooth talking scuttlebutt.
8: Murder Mystery Dinner 2004 All but these three images have been lost to time. Perhaps the killer stole history to cover his tracks.
10: ACU Murder Mystery Dinner 2005
14: ACU Murder Mystery 2006
16: From 2007 to 2008, innocent lives were lost without a whisper of what happened to the victims.
17: These mysterious lost years beg but one question: Who did it? Perhaps we will never know.
18: ACU Murder Mystery 2007
19: Cast of Characters Written By: Sara Morris Directed by: Amy Simpson Grant Garrison: Dr.Chris Willerton Tanya Garrison: Chelsea Hackney Alex Garrison: Amanda Buchanan Philip Tiburon: Ben Miller Blair Wiggins: Greg Jeffers Detective Lovelle: Devin Anderson Extra: Dr. Joe Stephenson
20: Clockwise from top left: Philip Tiberon demonstrates how the deceased collapsed to Detective Lovelle; Grant Garrison introduce his wife, Tanya, and his daughter, Alex, to the guests; Board member Joe Stephenson congratulates Philip on becoming the guarantor of Blair's newly purchased estate; The detective arrests the culprit behind Grant's death; Tanya and Alex face off while the Detective watches with interest; The detective rounds up the suspects to get to the bottom of this heinous crime.
22: Cast of Characters Written by: Amber Deschamps Directed by: Amy Simpson Det. Michaela Scott: Amber Deschamps Det. Locke Langley: Elizabeth Bernhardt Debora Hart: Stephanie Smith Edgar Hart: Daniel Tomkins | Gunny Hart: Annika Ringle Finn Hart: David Vanderpool Benjamin Davis: Jared Perkins Chef Deshiezo: Ben Miller Susan Crater: Devin Anderson Francine Pall: Stephanie Rusnak Coroner Jenkins: Alex Hamilton
23: The detective has an epiphany regarding the case. | Susan and Francine are noticeably upset by their employer's murder. | Love sparks between the Coroner Jenkins and Benjamin. | The dead rise; Debora peeks in on the aftermath of her death. | Chef Deshiezo is not happy with the turn of events overshadowing his food. | Debora welcomes the guests while Finn looks on in frustration. | Edgar and Michaela face off as Gunny nervously watches. | Ever studious, Detective Locke jots down relevant notes to the case.
26: Written by: Andrew Kinnaman Directed by: Amy Simpson Stage Manager: Annika Ringle Det. Mark Malone: Andrew Kinnaman Det. Maya Reeves: Elizabeth Bernhardt Shaun Newsome: Lucius Patenaude | Alice Byrd: Amber Deschamps Floyd Credo: Ben Miller Abby Statlorf: Emmy Sparks Martha Walder: Lindsey Meredith Mary Swinson: Morgan Mogler George Macabee: Travis Cramer | Cast of Characters
28: Mary, the maid, casts a worried look at the detectives as the night wears on. | Detective Malone looks to the heavens to try and figure out who the culprit is. | Was it the butler in the study with a candlestick? George watches intently from his post as the suspects bicker. | The devious duo, Abby and Martha, gossip about Joan's death.
29: Clockwise from top left: Shaun Newsome sits in shock after discovering his wife has been murdered. The Newsome's lawyer, Floyd Credo, contemplates his alibi while the audience looks on. What did you say? Detective Maya Reeves listens intently as the suspects discuss the crime. Alice Byrd attempts to smooth over the guest-of-honors' lateness at the top of the evening.
32: A Word From the Director | My time as Director of the Honors Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre has been exciting mostly because I've been able to see the program grow from a series of scenes that were just thrown together into a well-orchestrated and thoughtful presentation, which really has entertained our audiences. I was first asked to direct the Honors Murder Mystery by my friend Peter Nolte. He had written the script, but was unable to direct it. I think I met with the cast once -- maybe twice -- before the show, which I couldn't even attend because I had a previous engagement. I met the student actors in the Honors Office in the Administration Building one evening, gave them some easy blocking (that could be changed for any kind of staging) and wished them luck. That really was the extent of my time with them. A few years later, I was working for ACU and was asked to direct again. This was a much more organized and thorough process. I attended auditions and helped pick the cast, then rehearsed with them once or twice a week for several weeks leading up to the performance. We had a great time! This particular dinner theatre was specifically prepared for prospective honors students. After a day of interviews, they were invited to a dinner and our show. Because we were performing the show a number of times, and knew that some of our audience would be repeat ACU faculty, staff and students, we decided to create more than one ending. We had lots of fun coming up with motives and the means for all the characters, and eventually settling on a couple solid "alternate endings". The cast built up good energy knowing they had to stay on their feet and remember who the murderer was that night.
33: The 2010 Murder Mystery moved into the William's Performing Arts Center's (WPAC) North Lobby, which allowed us to rehearse in the space we would perform in. This was a huge bonus in preparing the actors for the actual performance. It also allowed me to use multiple levels in blocking (including stairs and a balcony) and to bring the actors closer to the audience members: creating a sense of mingling, which added to the fun of the piece. This year the Honors College also hired some student musicians who provided transition music for the scenes. This was fantastic! They were professional and provided a cue for the audience to know when a scene was over or about to start. We seemed to have found the Honor's Murder Mystery niche in 2010, so there was not much to change in 2011. I requested a Stage Manager this year, and was thrilled to get to work with Annika Ringle. She provided the props, ran the sound and helped me take notes. She also encouraged her fellow Visual Art students to bring some of their pieces (including paintings and sculpture). We presented their truly stunning work in the North Lobby of the WPAC so audience members could look at the art pieces before, during and after dinner. Each year, I'm so impressed with the creativity of the student playwrights. Their scripts are funny, full of red herrings and often quite clever. They are the perfect base from which student actors have created unique, entertaining and touching characters. The creativity and enthusiasm the actors bring to rehearsals continuously challenges me -- and makes me laugh. I'm proud to have been a part of the Honor's College Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre and am excited to see it growing as a staple in Spring Semesters here at ACU.