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Murder mystery debuts at Amargosa Opera House

Master Mystery Productions returns to the Amargosa Opera House on Saturday for a four-week run of “Eat Cake,” an all new mystery comedy set in 18th century France.

Like last year’s popular murder mystery opera, the show was inspired by and written specifically for the Opera House stage. According to creator Daniel Stallings, it is the company’s “most lavish production yet.”

Unlike last year’s show, said Stallings, “Eat Cake” is not a musical. It’s a “wacky comedy spoof” set in the Palace of Versailles, “a farcical nod to the madness of Versailles and the French Revolution.”

In a Pygmalion-style plot with a lively twist, the show opens with Brigitte the Bawd being schooled in the ways of the aristocracy by the eccentric Marquis Mauvaishas. But Brigitte is no tame Eliza, she’s using her access to Versailles to sneak dangerous revolutionaries into the palace.

“When a series of failed assassinations at multiple targets rock the Marquis’ apartments, a madcap maze of motives and mistaken identity is exposed. Who is responsible for the insanity? Is anyone truly innocent?” asks the show’s promotional flyer.

Toward the end of the performance, the interactive production allows the audience an opportunity to guess at the solution to the mystery before the culprit is revealed. They’ll also have the chance to vote for their favorite performers, choosing among actors Jonathan Blair, Rebecca Witherell, Heather McGaha, Monica Lorenz, Devanne Fredette, Calvin Johnson, Nicole Johnson, and Tiffany Cheney. Those awards will be given out on the day of the final performance, Stallings said.

The story for “Eat Cake” grew from a character dreamed up by one of the cast members backstage during last year’s springtime Opera House performance. By the end of the run of that show, said Stallings, he knew who the main character was going to be for the next show. Three weeks later he had the basic script. While working on other projects and writing and publishing his second mystery novel, Stallings spent the past year putting all the elements of “Eat Cake” together.

The show was designed to work with the existing props and the built-in ambience of the floor to ceiling Opera House murals painted by legendary dancer Marta Becket, Stallings said, as well as props created by Master Mystery Productions. “Eat Cake” features a specially designed “extravagant” costume wardrobe, complete with the absurdly wide dresses and high hairstyles worn by the French aristocracy.

The cast began rehearsals in early January, said Stallings, and of the 22 shows he’s put on since founding Master Mystery Productions, “this is by far the most fun I’ve ever had working on a show.”

The performers are all regulars with the company and performed on the Opera House stage last year, said Stallings, so they are familiar with the space and with the particular challenges associated with mounting a production in a theater that is a beloved historical work of art in its own right. “We have it down to a science,” he said.

Stallings is the owner and creative force behind Master Mystery Productions, a Ridgecrest, California-based entertainment company that specializes in creating shows tailored to any venue, including book stores, tea shops and even birthday parties. Stallings and his crew will make the eight-hour round-trip from Ridgecrest each Saturday for the 2:00 matinee show.

“Eat Cake” performs March 23, March 30, April 6, and April 13th at 2 p.m. at the Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley Junction. Tickets are $30 each general admission and $15 for kids 12 and under, though Stallings stated that some content may not be suitable for small children.

Tickets will be sold through the Amargosa Hotel Front Desk, advance purchase is highly recommended. Call 760-852-4441 or email deathvalleyjunction.backstage@gmail.com

For further questions, contact mastermysteryproductions@hotmail.com or message Master Mystery Productions on Facebook.

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