According to Éli Chau, putting together a successful Murder Mystery Night (MMN) is like writing a play, producing a movie, planning a gala, making an improv game, and dealing with divas all at once. As her co-host for the Marvel-themed extravaganza that took place on July 1, I can guarantee that this is 100% accurate. After months of blood, sweat, tears, caffeine, poke, wine, and macaroons, we finally pulled it off.
Here's the story of how Éli and I got away with the perfect murder.
...mystery. Murder Mystery. That's what I meant. Totally.
First, we needed to decide when the MMN should take place. We decided that July 1 was far enough in advance to give us time to plan, not too far ahead that Rebecca wouldn't be able to come, and we could make it a Fourth of July party too. It works, because that's Captain America's birthday.
Next, we came up with the general plot:
It has been a year since what became known as the Superhero Civil War, and Tony Stark has been extremely busy. He managed to get rid of the corrupt Secretary of State Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, scrap the Sokovia Accords, and slowly rebuild the Avengers with new members. Tony’s most public success is the ratification of the PLANETARY DEFENSE AGREEMENT (PDA for short), his counterproposal to the Sokovia Accords. The only thing missing is Steve Rogers and his Rogue Avengers.
That's when the real work began.
Bios, Clues, Secrets, Teams, Plot Twists, Bios, Props, Music, Food, End Credits Scenes, and ... did I say Bios?
Planning a MMN is NOT an easy task. We need a confirmed guest list early on in order to create the cast and intricacies in the plot. We did have a few last-minute changes and shuffling we needed to do, which got a bit stressful, but overall, our list of attendees was pretty solid from the beginning. We had a decent number of MMN veterans to keep all the newbies engaged. It was a good mix.
And we couldn't have a Marvel event without an end credits scene. Obviously. So we came up with a fairly simple idea, met up with Heather Owens the week before the MMN, and spent a few hours filming a scene where a fleeing Peggy Carter is approached by Jean Grey about joining the Liberators, an all-female superhero team. The original version came out well, but Éli decided to make a silent film version just for fun and we liked it better! Here are a few screenshots (photo cred: Éli Chau)
Happy Murder Day, Everyone!
I wake up at 5:30am on July 1 and cannot fall back asleep. The day is here, and there is so much work to be done! I head downstairs, turn on the oven, and start baking. Jello shots were made the night before, so at least that's out of the way. I get such an early start with the lemon bars and the cupcakes that there is no way we could possibly fall behind! Especially with both my parents helping from the start, Éli getting there at noon to finalize props and hide the clues, and Heather getting there between 3pm and 4pm! We are rock solid.
First, Éli and I realized that despite all of our planning, we never came up with a climactic scene where it is revealed that Peggy Carter (played by yours truly) is the murderer. Our conversation went a little like this:
Éli: "Are you ready?"
Finally, we started getting ready super late. Mom had to monitor our mac and cheese bites (which were at-risk of not forming correctly) and make the sausage bread while Éli, Heather and I ran upstairs to put our faces on and get dressed. That led to a whole other set of problems. My hair, which was supposed to come out in loose 40's-style waves, ended up making me look like Bozo the Clown. Also, the zipper of Éli's custom-made Black Widow suit breaks. Fixing both of these took up a lot of extra time, which was bad because not only did we have more food to prep, but also Austin Wilson, who came to visit from Portland and was portraying Bucky Barnes, arrived early and was waiting downstairs!
The Victims-I-Mean-Guests Arrive
Sure, there were some hiccups along the way. We didn't find one of the clues, we forgot to give one of the cues (and I wanted to swing dance, too!), the murder weapon froze, and then my vial stopped glowing so I had to sneak away and get another one, and ÉLI AND I FORGOT TO TAKE PICTURES THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT (ugh!!!) I guess we were just too focused on making sure everything goes according to plan.
The ad-libbed climactic scene turned out pretty well, too. There was an impromptu fight scene between Peggy and Cap/Austin Smith! In fact, I was so in the moment and focused on making sure everything was revealed that I completely missed the chanting of "KISS, KISS, KISS." Éli had to tell me about it several hours later! Hmm... could have made for an interesting character decision, as a sociopathic Peggy Carter would've use anything at her disposal to get away... *shrug* oh well!
Overall, the night was a huge success. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, and that's really all a host can ask for. I'm looking forward to future MMNs. Éli is already planning the next one for Jane's birthday in September, and Heather and I came up with an idea for one after that in 2018! Maybe we can make a business out of this one day...
PS: My absolute favorite quote of the night is: "If I wasn't a Christian schoolteacher, I'd be a stripper."