Last Friday night, I joined Chelsea’s family and friends in a murder mystery birthday party. This was my first ever murder mystery party, which made it all the more of a fantastic experience! We were celebrating the birthday of Jen, Chelsea’s mother, who was turning a year so young that I daren’t post the actual number on this blog.
For several weeks now, Chelsea and I have been in search of the perfect costumes. The party’s storyline was set back in 1969 at a hippie commune outside of Woodstock. Idealistically speaking, this should have made costume searching easy. We found out rather quickly that there was quite a lot of adventure to be had in the costume search alone.
Our search started at Community Thrift in Dundee, IL. After about an hour of searching, I came out with the jackpot – a pair of grey-green pinstripe pants, a paisley shirt, a brown suede vest, a belt, and white shoes. Chelsea left with a shirt for Ryan’s costume, a belt, and hope for the next shopping day.
A few days later, we ventured out to one of those seasonal halloween stores and inspiration struck. Chelsea found several packaged outfits, but none spoke of perfection. I did manage to find a long, blonde wig that screamed “look at me, I’m a hippie!” Cha-ching.
The evening before the party, I received a tweet from Chelsea that read,
“I might be changing up my entire costume in the 11th hour. Please send help.”
The next day, we resumed the search back at square one – Community Thrift. This time, Chelsea found a winner. We were browsing across the aisle from each other when she found it. She pulled it out and spun towards me. I responded with a look of awe. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! As we shared that moment, two college boys walked in between us. They commented on how good Chelsea would look in it. She responded that it was for a halloween costume, but thanks – all while flashing her wedding band. Smooth, Chelsea. One of the guys replied that they were working towards getting his friend to look like Bill Cosby, and they had a cable sweater, loafers, and corduroy khakis in tow. We said something to the effect of, “Oh, nice. Have fun with that,” and they moved on. The things that happen in thrift stores.
That evening, Chelsea and I embarked on making the birthday cupcakes. They happened and survived (sort-of).
The next day, we moved onto making the frosting – a swiss meringue buttercream. Unfortunately for us, attempts 1 and 2 smelled like rotten egg farts and didn’t thicken like they were supposed to. So, we moved onto round 3 – a simple buttercream frosting. This failed as well. Thankfully, we were able to call in some backup cupcakes, and the dessert portion of the party was saved.
Now onto the party itself! (The story that is to follow is pure fiction.)
It was the year 1969, and there were 11 hippies gathered in the “Karma Club” commune in New Hampshire. Earlier in the day, there had been a murder. Now all 11 were being held on the commune property until the investigation was completed. They had three hours to figure out who had done it, what had happened, and solve individual objectives that were assigned to each character.
I was Judy Stank, the widow of the aforementioned victim of the day’s murder – Marvin Stank. We were in the famous band “Marmalade Skies,” and had enjoyed a measure of success, as we were on our way to play at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Unfortunately, our bus had broken down, which is why we were at the Karma Club commune.
All 11 characters had a packet of information that we were given to study prior to the game beginning. This revealed key details, background information, and what our goals were. Inside our group, we had the band, “Marmalade Skies,” members of the “Karma Club” commune, an executive from “Groovytown Records,” and an undercover FBI agent. Throughout the course of the three hours, we mingled, fought, exchanged money, information, and sought to achieve our personal objectives. It was craziness.
For me, this was a stressful event. My character had found her husband, the deceased, in bed with the lead singer from Marmalade Skies. I caught them in the act, threw them both out, and sulked the rest of the day…until I heard gunshots. From an actor’s perspective, my character just got more complicated. I thought I had a good marriage until I caught the affair in progress. I was dealing with the recourse from that when BAM. My husband was murdered. Naturally, I tried to think of what emotions this character would have felt, and surmised that since the emotions were so conflicting, my role was to try to keep breathing, and to try to move on with the band.
Unknown to me, it was none other than Chelsea who murdered my husband, due to many backstory details that, if included in this post, would drag on and on for pages. During the game, Chelsea was spreading rumors that I killed my husband.
I was so confused for most of the game. My insides were conflicted. Yes – it was only a game, but I don’t do well with conflict. I didn’t know who was with me or who was against me. I didn’t know who to trust! But by the end of the game, I had achieved four out of my five personal goals. The only one left unsolved was to nail down the murderer. By default, I didn’t suspect Chelsea…but I was so wrong.
All in all, it was a fantastic night filled with laughter, fake fights, Jen holding someone up at “gunpoint” (it was a gun on a piece of paper), vocal auditions to improv songs, lots of hippie bling, and an evening of celebrating Jen. It couldn’t have gone better!
Happy birthday again, Jen! You are the best 🙂