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Murder mysteries to entertain area residents

Mystery fans rejoice! For the next five weeks opportunities abound for live theater whodunits with a production of “Murder Most Fowl” by Pahrump’s own Shadow Mountain Community Players at the Nevada Treasure RV Resort, and an original ghost story mystery by Master Mystery Productions at the Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley Junction.

“Murder Most Fowl”, an interactive murder mystery in the dinner theater tradition, debuted to an enthusiastic audience last weekend and runs again this Friday and Saturday night. Written by M.K. O’Roarke and adapted to the Treasure venue by the Shadow Mountain Players, this production features a different outcome every night.

Catered by Red Sky BBQ, dinner is served buffet style after the first act of the show, in which a patron at the Funky Chicken, “Pahrump’s finest [fictional] restaurant”, is murdered, said Carlton McCaslin, one of the founding members of the Shadow Mountain Players. During a short break the audience will fill their plates from a variety of choices at the buffet station and enjoy their dinners while “Pahrump’s finest detective, Lt. Cogumbo” questions the suspects. By the end of the third act Cogumbo is having difficulty solving the case so he enlists the aid of the audience in questioning the suspects. Audience members then vote on their best guess at who-dunnit. “We have a different ending every night,” said McCaslin.

The cast includes many popular longtime members: Carlton McCaslin, Dave Perlman, Kimberly Demonte, Adrian Espinoza, Sue Zink, Dennis Twitchell, Alyssa McCaslin, Maaike Matheson, and Pat Bushgens. The play is directed by Gail McCaslin and the set was designed by Laurie McCaslin. The production includes live music by keyboardist Pat Wood.

The weekend after “Murder Most Fowl” finishes its run, Master Mystery Productions out of Ridgecrest, California, kicks off its fifth season with “The Woman in the Walls”, an original mystery written by Daniel Stallings especially for the Amargosa Opera House stage.

“The Opera House lends itself so well,” said Stallings. He used some of Becket’s original paintings and backdrops as inspiration for the story, which also draws from the traditions séance and ghost mysteries of Agatha Christie and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Set in 1930, “The Woman in the Walls” is about a “group of friends renting an old house for the holidays. They stumble upon the legend of a Victorian ghost,” said Stallings. During a séance, the lights go out and one of the party is found dead.

“Revenge from beyond the veil? Or is someone more lively orchestrating these ghostly scares? … Our ghost story will invite you to step into our séance to solve this spirited mystery full of period costuming, haunting lullabies, and shocking secrets.”

“The Woman in the Walls” stars Tiffany Cheney, Calvin Johnson, Beth Sparks-Jacques, Olivia Holm, Lexi Phillips, Davis Kunz, and Nicole Johnson.

Stallings has been writing venue-tailored murder mysteries for five years. “This is one of my very favorite shows,” he said, “for the costuming, the set work. Some of our best attention to period detail, some of our best talent, best costume design. We wanted to open our fifth season with the best of the best.”

Stallings is also the author of the Li Johnson mystery novel series from Pace Press.

The “Woman in the Walls” runs for four consecutive Saturdays, March 21 and 28 and April 4 and 11. The matinee showing begins at 2 p.m. and the show is about an hour long, Stallings said.

Tickets for “Murder Most Fowl” include dinner and are $25 in advance at the Pahrump Community Library, or $30 at the door. Doors open at 5:30, and the show begins at 6 p.m. Dinner is served at 6:30 during the first intermission. For more information call 775-727-6145 to reserve a table or for more info. Parties of six or more are required to make reservations in advance.

Tickets for “The Woman in the Walls” are $30 for general admission and $15 for children under 12. Advance reservations are recommended. Call 760-852-4441 to purchase tickets or email deathvalleyjunction.backstage@gmail.com. For more information about the production, email Daniel Stallings at mastermysteryproductions@hotmail.com, or visit Master Mystery Productions on Facebook to find out where else they’ll be performing this year.

Robin Flinchum is a freelance writer and editor living in Tecopa, California.

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