Archives for posts with tag: murder mystery

I’ve been writing and producing interactive murder mysteries since 1986 when I sort of stumbled into the mystery business by accident.  All I wanted to do was act in a participatory murder mystery but there weren’t any theater companies in Washington DC (where I lived) who were  doing  them so I decided to write and produce my own play. I did so, enlisted several  actor/friends, found a venue and, on Friday the 13th (an appropriate date) presented An Elegant Murder  to a very enthusiastic audience of over 150 people.
I was completely satisfied and ready to return to my “real” life of acting in regional theaters, writing for a local newspaper and enjoying, with my husband, our four almost grown children and our new home in Georgetown but,  some completely unexpected things began happening.

Newspaper articles reviewing ” An Elegant Murder” appeared and called it “a fun, new form of theater”,  the venue where I presented the show (Coolfont Resort in West Virginia) sent a contract for six more mysteries  over the next year, the owner of an art deco train contacted me about presenting mysteries on the train between Washington and New York and the  manager of a local radio station called to discuss presenting a mystery show at a fund-raiser. He added that that Vincent Price would be the guest of honor and would it be possible to somehow work him into the plot?

Does an actor ever say “No”? Of course not so, within the space one month, I became the producer/director of  my own theater company,Mystery On The Menu, wrote three more mysteries, formed a core company of ten actors, conferred with lawyers and accountants about contracts and book-keeping  and negotiated contracts with  several  businesses and resorts for future mystery plays.  I was in business; Mysteries were hot!

Since that time I’ve done thousands of mysteries aboard trains, cruise ships and buses, at resorts, hotels, restaurants, museums, conference centers, private homes and gardens.  I’ve written dozens of different mysteries and created characters who are sometimes more real to me than actual people.   Seven years ago, when the economy and therefore the mystery business started slowing down, I developed the  economical one- woman murder mystery series and called in Murder Is Served.  It proved to be a very profitable idea, people loved the idea of becoming a character and being a vital part of the play.

I’ve had a wonderful, successful twenty-seven  years but maybe, maybe  it’s time to quit.   Mystery On The Menu  was once  one of the  only murder mystery companies  in the country,  now there are  dozens and more springing up everyday.   When I started out in 1986  it was impossible to find a script for a participatory murder mystery  (which is why I started writing them) now hundreds (even free ones) can be found on the  internet with the click of a mouse.   This year I only did  the  ” A Very Merry Murder” holiday show two times as opposed to the year when I did it in five different  locations with five different  casts on one night.  My agent for the cruise line shows retired, three cruise lines decided not to do murder mysteries in their enrichment programs and my new, public  show, Bingo! It’s Murder , which I thought would be so successful, is selling very, very slowly.  

Maybe it’s time  to quit and concentrate on finishing my novel.  I’m writing  the third in my Inn series, Murder In the Inn and Another  Murder in the Inn were published a few years ago; now I’m working on Murder in Another  Inn.  I certainly have enough to do, swimming, line dancing, reading, traveling, people-watching on Lincoln road , traveling, going to the shows at the Hollywood beach bandstand, playing pickleball but…I miss my mystery shows.  I miss seeing people participate and ask questions and laugh; i miss the fun of seeing characters I created come to life. I miss the satisfaction, the high that comes from hearing applause for something I  created.  However, business is slow!  Maybe I have to face facts, be realistic.  Maybe it’s time to quit but…wait!  Someone just called to make reservations for six for the bingo show and a restaurant emailed about booking a mystery for a private party….maybe it’s not!


Two years ago I wrote a seven character murder mystery play called “Bingo! it’s Murder” It takes place in a bingo parlor and the audience actually gets to play several games of bingo as the characters appear, until a murder happens and a detective takes over. I named the characters Belle, Irene, Nick, Oliver and Ginger. Why is that important? Well, what do the first letters of every name spell? Ooh! As someone who shudders when people name the lawyers in their plays something like Dewey, Cheatem and Howe I’m sort of surprised at myself but…I had to do it!
Several theaters have expressed interest in producing “Bingo! It’s Murder: and one is actually planning to do so in 2015 but i’m the kind of person who likes things done “yesterday”. I’m getting impatient so…I decided to turn “Bingo” into a One woman play and produce it myself using people in the audience as the other characters. I’ve already produced several other plays using that system and it’s been very successful and cost effective. Take a look at my website, for more information about the one woman plays.
“Bingo, IT’S MURDER” will be presented in Miami Beach the end of February, I’m busy buying bingo cards…should I get the disposal paper ones or the heavier, re-usable ones? finding bingo trivia for the before-play game…did you know bingo was first called Beano? and buying cute, clever and inexpensive prizes. I love dollar stores!
Everything is in place, all i need is an audience. I’ve sent out press releases, emailed information to my mailing list..(want to join?) tweeted and put information on Facebook and distributed flyers. Anyone want to make a reservation?



Barbara Fox, Producer/Director/Editor



      Who We Are/What We Do

Mystery on the Menu is an interactive theater company presenting original participatory  murder mystery plays for corporate, private and public events any day, any location, any time for any size group.  The plays can be tailored to specific  events or businesses and can be as short as one hour or as long as a week-end. Mystery on the Menu performs at hotels, restaurants, resorts, offices, private clubs and  aboard trains cruise ships and busses. Please visit our websites







A one woman interactive mystery featuring

Barbara Fox & members of the audience who  receive   parts to read.  Everyone shares information, exams clues  helps solve the crime

Fri, Oct 4th, 7 pm–$21pp

Miami Beach Botanical Garden-

   Mystery/soft drinks, cheese/chocolate


Sun, Oct 6th –11 am

Mystery/juice/muffins, croissants


   $21 pp.  Resv. Required—786.683.6078


      PLAN A MYSTERY EVENT        

 The holidays are coming !Mystery on the Menu has shows for them and for other events (office and condo parties, birthdays, Fund-raisers, team/building, theme parties)

         Halloween Is Murder     for Oct.

        A Very Merry Murder   for Dec.    


I  will work with your group to tailor a show just for your business or special occasion.  Call    786.683.6078 or email for a free consultation.

           MY NEW  BOOK!

  ACT TWO FOR THREE   is available at Amazon in  kindle and soft-cover.


 Answer the following questions. Receive an original murder-mystery story with YOUR  NAME as a featured character!!

CLUE—read the book to find answers


 1-What did Jenna bring to the party?

  2-What are the names of Liz’s twin grandchildren?

 3-What game did Natalie like at the barbecue?

           Email answers to



  I started the story, you finish it.   The winning result will be published in the following issue and the winner will receive two tickets to an upcoming mystery show.

                MURDER AT TEATIME

The Snowbird Club was holding a tea in honor of  member  AliceAnne Cunningham who had just published her first mystery-for-teens, “Murder At The Prom”.   The other guests were society hostess/president of the club Elizabeth Crandall,  Dr. Audrey Taylor,  hostess of a radio advice show,  Lily Rose, pre-school teacher on a cable television show,  Madame Celine, a noted fashion designer and  Arlene Bright, president of Bright Ideas Advertising agency.

While the ladies were having tea. a  singing telegram messenger, Tony Heller, burst into the room and played the guitar while he sang a congratulations song to Alice Anne,  He stared at one of the women and asked “what are you doing here? Suddenly, the lights went out and there were gun shots   When the lights came back on Alice Anne was lying on the floor… dead!


Who shot Alice Anne?  Send solutions to:


All entries become the property of Mystery on The Menu and cannot be returned.

I’ve been writing interactive murder mysteries since 1986 and  in that time  I’ve  created a whole collection of characters  who have become almost more real to me than actual, live people  Some of my favorites are   Elizabeth Crandall, the society hostess, Dr. Audrey Taylor who writes the advice column Ask Audrey Anything, Countess Maria, the noted fortune-teller,  Danny (Duke Carleton) the notorious gambler,  Robby Ray the famous singer, Ms. Maddy the matchmaker  and Senator Bobby whose campaign speech is short and simple.  “I stand on my record”

These people pop up in several different plays.   Sometimes  they are suspects, sometimes, (although its getting harder and harder for me to write it)   they are the guilty person or even the victim!   I’d really rather  create a whole new character for the victim or the “bad guy”,  a  new character who I haven’t bonded with, who I don’t especially care about or like.  I love Elizabeth and Countess Maria and Dr. Audrey,  Robby and Ms Maddy;  Duke and Senator Bobby make me smile. It feels wrong,  almost cruel and unfeeling,  to kill them or make them into criminals.

The setting of the play determines who the characters will be. Reunions Are Murder,  about a nineteen fifties high school reunion,  has a cheer-leader, a class president, the football hero, a prom queen and the greasers.   A Corporate Crime has the CEO, , his ambitious assistant, the advertising and marketing directors and the competitor;  “Lights, Camera, Murder” features the director, the stars, the jealous understudy and the financial backer and “Murder At Sea” has the captain, the cruise director, the entertainer and the chef.

Finding just the right name for  these people is a challenge; I  sometimes  make several changes (Laura, Joan, Angie??)   until one sounds just right for the character.    Since the plays are participatory I  include complete backgrounds, histories and relationships for these characters so that the actors who play them are prepared  and can answer any questions the audience might ask.  And they do ask!

“Where did you meet your bride?”  “How long have you worked at The Crumpert Cookie Company?”   “What did you do before you were a Senator?”  “How did you get started in show business?”  The actors in the show have to know the correct answers so as not to mislead or confuse the audience.

I recently met a woman who has the same name as one of my characters; it’s hard to think her as an activity director because,  in my mind she is ….i won’t print her name—the former actress who now makes Wolf Dog Food commercials

The characters  are truly real to me ; I  wanted to remember them, keep them in a more permanent form than the plays so I put several of them into mystery novels , Murder In The Inn and Another Murder In the Inn  and   Murder Is Served (short mystery stories which use all of the characters that didn’t fit into the Inn books).

I’ve also created a whole “mystery world” but, that’s another article.—

You’re going to attend a participatory murder mystery play and, to have the best time possible and get the most out of the experience there are several things you should do and not do.  The last post talked about the “dos”;  this post will list the “don’ts”   If you follow the “dos an don’ts” you’ll have, as we say, a great “crime” and, as a bonus the actors in the play will be very appreciative.

1–Don’t interrupt or talk back to the actors when they are performing one of the scripted scenes.  It’s tempting sometimes but…don’t do it.

2   Don’t touch the actors, don’t try to stop the murderer from escaping or tackle him or her (it’s really happened) and don’t try to “help the victim”.

3   Don’t follow the actors when one of them leaves the room,  You wouldn’t ever  go up onto a stage to do so; when an actor in a murder mystery leaves the room he or she is doing the equivalent of going “backstage”

4    Don’t try to make the actors break character when they are mingling with the audience  by saying things like, “how long have you been acting”, or “what’s your real name?”  The actors work very hard to create and stay in character so they can make the play fun and enjoyable for everyone.

5   Don’t take flash photographs or videos of the actors’  during the play; it’s distracting and annoying and, if the material is copyrighted (and it usually is) illegal.  The actors will almost always be willing to, and enjoy posing for pictures with you or for you, after the show

Finally and  most important, don’t forget to make a reservation to attend a murder mystery event soon, You’ll have “The Crime of Your Life”.  Visit our websites for a listing of upcoming shows.—–



You have tickets to an interactive murder mystery play or a friend invites you to a murder mystery party and you really want to attend but you’re not sure about what to expect and you’re a little apprehensive.  What will you have to do?  How exactly are you supposed to participate?    What if you can’t figure out the solution?

Murder mystery plays happen right in the middle of the audience; there is no forth wall separating the audience from the actors.  The shows  are fun and sociable, like a live game of Clue but, to make the experience enjoyable for both the actors and the audience there are a few simple dos and don’ts to follow. I’ll post the Dos today, the don’ts tomorrow.

1– Do  listen carefully when the actors are speaking just as you  would  when attending  a regular play.  Everything an actor says is important and could possibly be a clue.

2   Do participate. Volunteer to read a part or to be an informer and after you do volunteer, take it seriously. Read your information carefully; become the character.  Sometimes you’ll be told that you are be a member of a family, or an extra in a movie or a passenger on a cruise ship.  Play along, you’ll enjoy it.

3– Do look at all of the clues, decode the coded note, examine the pictures carefully

4    Do  talk to the actors, as their character, and ask them questions when they are walking around the room

5   Do try to solve the crime;  work with your team or table write a solution.  Accuse one of the suspects and say why you believe he or she is guilty.

Most murder mystery plays are mysterycomedies, maybe they’re not great theater but, they’re fun and audiences like being part of the activity as opposed to just sitting and watching.    If you follow the Dos above you’ll have, as they say, The “Crime’ of your life!