Who Killed the Ghost of Christmas Past?
UPDATE: THIS PRODUCTION HAS SOLD OUT ALL THREE WEEKS.
UPDATE: THIS PRODUCTION HAS ENDED. THANK YOU.
"WHO KILLED THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST?"
An interactive murder mystery
written & directed by Michael Timm
It’s Christmas Eve 1929 and murder cuts short the opening night of the Valhalla Theatre’s wildly revised version of A Christmas Carol. As the power fluctuates and the roof threatens to cave in, snowbound audience members (you!) must ferret out the killer before he or she strikes again. In the process they (you!) unravel the secrets that entangle a colorful cast of suspects teetering on the brink between the Jazz Age and the Great Depression.
"Ghost?" is family-friendly holiday fun perfect for office parties, social outings, first dates, or anyone looking for a good time doing something a little different than ordinary theater.
WARNING: This is not passive entertainment. Audience members (you!) participate in the story. Teams of two to four are recommended, but singles or larger groups are welcome. The show is partly scripted action onstage, but audience members (you!) must mingle and gossip with the suspects, wander two labyrinthine floors of the theater building in search of clues, and play “games” to access evidence that helps them (you!) solve the murder.
This December, are you keen enough to catch a killer?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
“Who Killed the Ghost of Christmas Past?” Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to dress up like it’s 1929?
You can, but you don’t have to. Twenty-first century attire is acceptable so long as you wear your imagination. The more you immerse yourself in the environment, the more fun you’re likely to have. However, even though Nikola Tesla had demonstrated the possibilities of wireless communication decades earlier, there was no such thing as a cell phone in 1929, so kindly deactivate any such anachronisms upon entering the theater.
So, part of the show is scripted like a normal show but part of it is me asking people questions? Is this really fun? I’m afraid I’ll mess it up or that I won’t get it.
Don’t worry. The rules of engagement will be fairly obvious. You can interact with our cast pretty much whenever they’re not actually onstage. You should feel encouraged to do so, in fact. They will also engage you. You can’t mess anything up. It helps to push yourself to be a little artificially outgoing, but if you are naturally shy, then just listen and observe the answers others are obtaining as well as nonverbal cues. Cast members will determine what and how much to reveal. Not all of what they reveal will be germane to the murder investigation, but it will all be true to their characters. The more you interact with them, the more you will learn about the story.
I really want to play along. What’s my fictional “cover”? What should I pretend to be when I enter the Alchemist, er, Valhalla? Am I a private detective or something or just an ordinary person?
For the purposes of our story, it suffices that you consider yourself an audience member at a theatrical production of A Christmas Carol in 1929. You can create your own character if you like, but it’s not necessary to our story.
What about the clues and evidence mentioned in the synopsis? Can I solve the murder without them? How do I get them?
You might be able to crack the case simply with amazing intuitive skills, but more than likely you’re going to need some hard evidence to help you figure out what suspect testimony to accept as true and what to throw out in the alley. The evening is designed to encourage you to participate in several “games” that lead to evidence that may help or hinder your investigation. A single clue probably won’t be enough on its own. But talking to a number of suspects and collecting several clues will give you a better chance to succeed.
Do I need to research the historical era to enjoy or understand the story?
No. It wouldn’t hurt, but those who study up won’t have a noticeable advantage over those who can’t tell a speakeasy from a saloon.
How seriously should I take all this?
How hard-core you want to be is up to you, of course, but the goal of the production is to have fun. Drinks are available at the bar, er, speakeasy, the entire night. The overall tone of the evening is surreal and a bit crazy. That’s not to say there aren’t some dark elements—a murder has occurred, after all—but our characters are also so preoccupied with their own problems that you’re likely to get caught up in their drama. Imagine if you found yourself inside a PBS Mystery! with all the suspects cooped up in one space. They’re going to be tense and irritable, but sometimes they can’t help themselves from being distinctively outlandish. Sometimes it’s the more subtle clues that are most important; sometimes it’s the most obvious.
Do I need a team?
No. You can enjoy the evening on your own. However, teams of two to four people are recommended. Then you’ll have someone to consult with. You’ll also have someone to divide the labor with—there are eight suspects and many rooms to explore. An extra pair of eyes or set of hands might come in handy. If you come on your own and want to play on your own, great! If you come on your own and would like to join up with other singles or another team, contact us when you order your ticket or let an usher know when you arrive. It may not be possible to add you to another team, but we will attempt to meet everyone’s needs.
I’m in a wheelchair or cannot use the stairs. Can I still come?
You’ll miss out on the entire lower level, so not all the evidence will be available to you, but you will be able to interact with all of the suspects on the main floor over the course of the evening. It still may be fun for you, especially if you’re with friends who can go downstairs. Contact us in advance to inquire about special accessibility needs. Unfortunately we cannot provide handicap access to the lower level.
Can I smoke anywhere inside the theater?
How hard is this going to be? I don’t want to pay money to get frustrated.
Solving whodunit is not going to be easy—but our intent is not to make it insolubly difficult, either. There is an answer. With enough ingenuity and evidence, anyone has the opportunity to figure it out. But not everyone will. There’s bound to be a little friendly competition. Your ticket is a means of transport to another space and time. For a few hours during the darkest days of the year, you get to feel immersed in an imaginary world with a different but coherent set of characters and consequences. Come with the right attitude and the evening promises to be great, memorable fun.
Will bringing anything else help me solve the murder or disqualify me?
You might want to bring a small notebook and something to write with. Each team will be supplied with a playbill that provides a framework for the evening, including icebreaker questions to help them engage with our cast. Digital cameras or similar devices are strongly discouraged. They won’t really confer an advantage, but they will inject an anachronism into the heart of our story.
What do I win if I get it right?
Alchemist has teamed up with local businesses to create a prize package for the top team or individual for each night. It’s possible that several parties will guess the correct killer; prizes will be awarded to the top team based on total points scored by answering the most playbill questions correctly.
If you have a question that isn’t addressed here, please contact us: email@example.com
MEET THE CAST & CREW:
In no particular order, here are the talented cast and crew of “Who Killed the Ghost of Christmas Past?” at Alchemist Theatre this December.
Erin is happy to be back at the Alch after appearing in “Faust” earlier this year. Erin can often be found behind the bar at the lovely Alchemist Theatre and Lounge, conveniently located near the Bay View home she shares with her boyfriend of over seven years, Evan, and their assorted pets. She sends her thanks to Michael Timm for including her in her first murder mystery, and to all of you for supporting your neighborhood theater.
Ellen is excited to appear in “Who Killed the Ghost of Christmas Past?”. She received her BA in Theatre from Ripon College where she acted, painted, constructed, and crewed for many of the productions. Milwaukee credits include “One Acts 2011 - Higher Education” (Pink Banana Theatre Company), “Taming of the Shrew” (Carte Blanche Studios), “The Vagina Monologues” (Milwaukee Gay Arts Center), and the Milwaukee Rep’s scenic painting internship. This August Ellen plays Guildenstern in Fools for Tragedy’s inaugural production, “In My Mind’s Eye,” at the Alchemist Theatre.
Sheila’s fascination with playing dress-up began when she was three. Donning her mother’s 1970s floppy hat and a shawl, she falsely believed she could fool her parents into thinking she was a peddler woman, and was quite disappointed when they recognized her. Sheila has costumed shows for the Milwaukee Rock Theatre, Sunset Playhouse, and constructed custom-made garments for local musicians and performers. While she has refocused on her writing in recent years, she’s happy to jump back into costuming “Who Killed the Ghost of Christmas Past?”.
Greg returns to the stage after a seven-year hiatus. He has spent the past years honing the crafts of Nonsense, Tomfoolery, and Poor Decision Making. His myriad exploits range from manufacturing toilet seats in the humble backwaters of Wisconsin, to roguishly wandering the Swedish countryside, and even fox-trotting with transvestites in Brazil. He now channels a world of experiences into acting and writing. Additionally, he is single.
Greg’s first 50 years appearing in America’s corporate world as an Internet Geek and Techhead set the stage for Greg’s second act and his entry into theatre. Luckily, his loss of hair follicles allowed him access to roles hairy persons could only dream about. Some acting classes at The Rep helped him get over his fear of flying and he flew into some fun plays. His rookie performance was in “The Odd Couple” at Theatre on Main where he played Murray the Cop. Then two roles at the Bay Players in Whitefish Bay and then he played Mr. Webb in “Our Town” at the Delafield SummerStage this past summer. He’s delighted to appear at the Alchemist Theatre in December 2011 and wants to remember that it’s 90 degrees in Milwaukee as he writes this.
Rebecca is a proud native of Milwaukee. She received her BA in Theatre Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2008, where she directed “The Man Who,” “No Exit,” and “The Baltimore Waltz,” and was featured in “Le Bourgeois Avant-Garde,” “Into the Woods,” “The Baltimore Waltz,” and “Hopscotch.” After using her French & Francophone Studies degree (also from IWU) to teach English in France for two years, she decided that it was worth the sacrifice of cheese-good-enough-for-the-gods-and-espresso-so-good-it-makes-you-cry to come home and do some theatre again in her native tongue. Who needs Sarko anyway… Milwaukee credits include Harriet in “Pullman Car Hiawatha” at the Boulevard Theatre, writing and acting for “Patrick Schmitz Presents: Sketch 22 (VII)” at the Alchemist Theatre, and directing for “Higher Education,” the Pink Banana one-acts. Rebecca is thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of another Alchemist production! Let’s turn this into gold, people…
Lineve found her passion for theatre at the very young age of three. As her father tells it, the first live production she saw was “The Jungle Book.” Before the show began Lineve was bouncing out of her seat with excitement. However, the moment the lights went down and the first actor began to move Lineve’s eyes grew wide and she said to her dad, “Those are people up there!” Lineve sat in silent amazement for the rest of the performance. Her father said that from that moment he knew Lineve was going to be an actress. True to her very first inklings of the love of theatre, Lineve went on to get her BFA in Acting from UW-Milwaukee in 2010 and is currently entering her twentieth year as a member of the theatre community. Lineve has no plans to leave that community anytime soon.
"Who Killed the Ghost of Christmas Past?” is the third murder mystery Michael has written and directed after “Greenfinger” in 2008 and “Who Killed Tony Zielinski?” in 2007. “Ghost” promises to be bigger, bolder, and even more fun. In 2002 Michael lost his platypus on an archaeological survey in Peru, then got it back—after paying the ransom to an agrarian grandmother with no teeth. In 2006, Michael lost his platypus again, when someone stole it on Valentine’s Day. In 2009 he journeyed with a new platypus to Oxford, England where he studied creative writing and drank in a lot of good pubs. Sometimes he forgets that he still has a platypus; but when he remembers why he does, he is happy. Platypuses are cool.
Alice is excited to be on the Alchemist stage again and with an amazing cast in such a fun show! As a matter of fact, she likes the Alchemist so much she’s getting married here next year! Credits include Polly Nichols in “Ripper” and Fleance in “Macbeth.” This Indiana transplant has worked with theatre companies all around Milwaukee including the Boulevard, In Tandem, Pink Banana, Insurgent, Alchemist, and Next Act. She is the founder of the nation’s premier silent-film-inspired comedic acting troupe, The MUTES, who have performed at Turner Hall, the Alchemist, the Milwaukee Theatre, the Oriental, PrideFest, and various venues with the Brew City Bombshells and Radio WHT. Film credits include “Modus Operandi” and “New Day.” This 2004 graduate of the UWM BA Theatre program is also a retired roller girl—watch out!