I always wanted to be an actor and I always was a writer (not a great one but one just the same). I thrive on creativity and my imagination. So it was no great surprise that I got my BA in Theater Arts. What IS surprising to me is that I write murder mystery games and, for many years, had a murder mystery dinner theater company.
Murder mystery dinner theater?
I was going to go to Hollywood and be in pictures.
Thing is, I’m not good movie material. The camera doesn’t flatter me, I’m too short, I never did get that boob job and I like to eat. I’m petite and far from overweight but that means I’m fat by Hollywood’s standards. Oh and I stink at auditions. Terrible! But I CAN act. How do I know for sure? Because back in about 1983, I was hired by “The Queen of Scream”, Alexa Robinson for her dinner theater troupe, High Moon Productions. They did murder mystery dinner theater where we had a basic sequence of actions but improvised all our dialogue to best promote audience participation.
See where this is going?
My first show was in a castle (really) in Gloucester, Mass. Alexa told me I was to be a Victorian maid and my job was to get the audience into the room, situated and make sure they paid attention when the prime suspects (not me) were revealing something important. When those massive castle doors opened and 100 people streamed in I was there to greet them – and I was totally hooked on the art of improvisation. I freaking loved it. In 1987 I opened my own murder mystery dinner theater company and until about 2010 I played hundreds of characters, improvising my dialogue and my actions based on what sort of audience we had. It was an awesome thrill ride. Improv allowed me to be successful as an actress plus I was writing those murder mysteries. Most importantly, I was funny. I made people laugh – a lot. (I used my mentor Carol Burnett and her gang as my inspiration for characters.) I have more great memories of my acting days stored in my head than anything else I’ve done with my life to date.
Murder mystery dinner theater gets a bum rap these days. It’s cheesy right? Well I bet a lot of people might agree but they will also exuberantly rave about it if it’s done well. Which brings me to an article I read here: http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/Bridlington-school-pupils-celebrate-enterprising/story-20922240-detail/story.html.
FUTURE STARS: The Lighthouse Entertainment team from Headlands School in Bridlington
A TEAM of schoolchildren who designed their own murder mystery game have won an award celebrating entrepreneurial excellence.
The seven teenagers from Headlands School in Bridlington were praised for their business Lighthouse Entertainment, which offers hosted evenings of fictional crime. <<< Comment: Ahhh, when you say it like that, it makes dinner theater way less cheesy.
Their company was named East Yorkshire winner of the Young Enterprise Awards at a ceremony held at the University of Hull.
Young Enterprise aims to help children try their hand in the world of business by creating and running a company.
Mason Yousif, Lighthouse’s managing director and sixth form student, said: “I’m thrilled to have done well.
“It was hard work, but it’s definitely paid off.”
Lighthouse’s murder mystery was named best product at the St Stephen’s Shopping Centre Trade Fair last year.
The group competed against teams from across East Yorkshire including runners-up Nimbus, a Hymers College entry which created cardboard cartons to replace plastic mineral water bottles.
Pupils at Hull College and Andrew Marvell College also took part, offering homemade lava lamps and an advertising website for young people.
Steve Savage, chairman of the North Humber Young Enterprise Board, praised all the youngsters involved for their hard work.
He said: “We have here a bunch of young people prepared to step out of their comfort zones and work a little bit harder than the rest.
“It’s going to be a journey that promises much if you continue to work hard.
“Young Enterprise alumni are significantly more likely to run their own businesses. These businesses are often very diverse and highly innovative.”
The students worked on their ideas with teachers and business mentors.
They had to prepare a financial plan, trade stall and four-minute presentation before taking part.
Lighthouse Entertainment and Nimbus will now go through to a county final in May, facing off against teams from the south bank.
The winners will progress to a Yorkshire-wide round and then potentially national and European challenges.
Last year’s victors were Prime, a team from Tiffin Girls’ School in London.
They produced a silicon iPhone amplifier that works without electricity.
Young Enterprise is a national charity run mostly by volunteers.
Visit www.young-enterprise.org.uk to find out more about the charity.