Murder Mystery improv show makes a killing

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Murder Mystery improv show makes a killing

[Pictured: Improv Troupe Board Member Mattie Daniels (right) and favored candidate to succeed her position following graduation, Jodi Cesare (left).]

[Pictured: Improv Troupe Board Member Mattie Daniels (right) and favored candidate to succeed her position following graduation, Jodi Cesare (left).]

[Pictured: Improv Troupe Board Member Mattie Daniels (right) and favored candidate to succeed her position following graduation, Jodi Cesare (left).]

[Pictured: Improv Troupe Board Member Mattie Daniels (right) and favored candidate to succeed her position following graduation, Jodi Cesare (left).]

Dylan Moran, Editor-in-Chief

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Thanks to the efforts of the Sayreville War Memorial High School Improv Troupe, the Sayreville community was once again invited to enjoy the annual Murder Mystery Improv Show – an improvised dinner-and-a-show performance fully planned, staged, and performed by the cast of actors – and as usual, the show proved to be a killer hit.

Gathering eager audience members to the event hosted in the school cafeteria for an evening performance, the Improv Troupe proved to have stepped up significantly from the performance of the previous year – as rather than performing from onstage in the auditorium in line with more traditionalistic stagecraft, the name of the game proved to be audience participation.

Actors spent the entirety of the evening in character as they not only performed, but directly interacted with the crowd – serving audience members dinner and food from the fully-stocked snack table (all expenses entirely covered under the ticket fee, requiring no additional payment from the viewer) and performing the show through brief interactions at the front of the room as tension built up to the first ‘murder’ of the evening, broken up by frequent intermissions allowing the characters to discuss their suspicions with the audience members.

As the show kicked off in earnest with the first ‘death’, the Improv Troupe got to show off the full range of their acting abilities, putting on a black (dark humor) comedy with a cast of characters varying from a pair of quarreling ex-lovers, an equal parts lovable and laughable ditz, a “dancer” and her loyal bodyguard, an unflappable con artist, the evening’s disgruntled and short-tempered host, and a cast of other comical archetypes pitted against each other to find the killer in their midst. With everything from full fight-scenes between the actors, candid improvised comedy playing off of audience responses, and surprise guest actors hidden in plain sight disguised as regular audience members, the show was one rich in twists and turns with a macabre sense of humor carrying it from start to finish.

Capping off the evening, the show once again breaks tradition to astounding effect by laying the story’s conclusion in the hands of the audience – the true identity of a killer deduced by popular vote from the audience, each accusation prompting further ad-libbed comedy as the cast desperately tries to prove their innocence and throw suspicion unto their cohorts to save their own skins. Without spoiling the conclusion, the mystery proved to have a punch-line none could have expected – and one that shared the laughter between actor and audience alike.

The evening’s performance, furthermore, stood not only as the very first to be staged without the expert direction of recently retired long-time Sayreville theatre teacher and Improv Troupe advisor Dr. Piccurio – but the very last show for the Improv Troupe’s board of leaders (Pat Smith, Mattie Daniels, and Anthony Cruz) as they complete their senior year and graduate from the high school. However, the cast advises their fans not to fret, regarding the show with optimism as a worthy finale to their time with the troupe and expressing confidence in the successors set to inherit their role and lead bigger and better shows in the coming years. Having had the honor of attending this evening of deduction, intrigue, and nonstop laughs, their assurance is one that can be taken with confidence – next year’s Murder Mystery Night looks to be a must-see!

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Murder Mystery improv show makes a killing