Murder Mystery Group Keeps Audiences Guessing

Monday, March 14th, 2011 at 10:08 PM
Murder Mystery Group Keeps Audiences Guessing by Denise Mankowski
Denise Mankowski/ Erie Reader

Imagine this: You are enjoying mouth-watering lasagna at what is supposed to be a traditional, Italian family reunion. But, then you encounter the favorite son of the matriarch of the family who is an ex-priest that brought his very pregnant girlfriend to meet his mother for the first time.

Next, you meet the black sheep of the family, the shady son that was a Vegas performer, but for reasons unknown at the onset of the evening, silences anyone who calls him by his stage name. He has brought along his very ditzy, very Vegas-style, girlfriend, whose voice is worse than nails on a chalkboard.

There is also the peculiar, older brother who is creeping around making it well-known that he is a police officer and has everyone wondering how he managed to pass a psychological examination and who in their right mind would allow him to carry a weapon.

Finally, you meet the matriarch of the family-- an old, cranky, wise-cracking lady who is unattractive-- to say the least—well, because her part is typically played by a male actor.

These characters are not your typical Colonel Mustard’s or Miss Scarlet’s of the game of Clue. But, this is half the fun. The other half of the fun is that you, the audience member, have the chance to sit down and eat dinner with these zany characters and chit-chat with them-- if you can get a word in edgewise amongst all the commotion. Given the particular show, you may also have the opportunity to play some games with the actors or receive some awards or recognition. 

But just when you think the evening cannot get any more outrageous, someone gets murdered by a pizza cutter to the back. There is no need to be alarmed, though. The audience is protected from the gruesome details, so you will not have to worry about losing your dinner and young audiences will not have nightmares. The most peculiar thing about the evening is that all the characters are in plain sight at the time the murder is committed, however, they are the only suspects. The primary goal is to decipher who committed the crime, why he or she felt murder was the necessary measure, and how he or she executed the deed. Within each script, there is a unique way in which the victim is killed and all the clues given lead to the answers the audience is seeking. However, murder mystery buffs beware because the outcome is not as obvious as one may think, so anyone looking for a fun and entertaining evening of intrigue will find just that at a murder mystery performed by the talented actors of IAS Murder Division Incorporated. 

Homicide is not the only unique feature of the evening. Each performance is unique in the clever way the actors merge with the audience. Bill Delozier, actor, director, and owner, explains the essence of the company.

“All scripts are masterfully crafted by Charles Corritore and revolve around an organizational gathering, such as an awards banquet for a prestigious hospital or a premiere of a Soap Opera,” Delozier said. “Although we adhere to the plot line, I encourage everyone to go with the flow. We may be scripted to relay a specific piece of evidence, but we are not married to the lines.”

This freedom allows the professional actors to customize the show for each audience. As Delozier describes, there are many “had to be there” moments that occur within any given evening. Anything that occurs may never happen again, and the actors make it happen through the particular audience each evening. 

For example, the group may tailor the show based on the location where the performance takes place. Also, if the group is performing for a group of doctors they will be sure to hear medical jokes and puns through the course of the evening. Each actor is in tune with the audience and uses their keen awareness to make the show relatable to them. The audiences appreciate this and the group has a faithful following.  

The company has kept audiences questioning, “Who dun nit?” for about 20 years.

Charles Corritore initially owned and operated the company under the name of Mayhem Incorporated. He kept the company going for 15 years and continuously wrote new scripts with new themes, with a grand total of nearly 20.

It has always been the company’s tradition to perform two to three different scripts each year, so it is possible for a faithful audience member to go nearly 10 years without seeing the same show twice.

After the dedicated years of Mayhem, Corritore left audiences with their final clue. However, two existing members believed there was still a market for the murder mystery bunch, so they formed B & G Murder Mystery Incorporated. After several years, the ‘G’ of B & G Murder Mystery Inc. moved away, and ‘D’ (Delozier) took G’s place. But, at the close of 2010, ‘B’ stepped down, and now ‘D’ has since merged with the In All Seriousness Comedy Troupe to form IAS Murder Division, Inc.

The comedy troupe is similar in that the actors also perform interactive comedies, however their shows do not focus on murder. The merger has elevated the company’s resources, and the material is becoming younger and fresher.

As Delozier states, “We have infused a brightness to keep up with the times. Being pushed into new arenas is allowing us to have new product. There is no limit to what we do.” The company is not only rehashing Corritore’s high-quality scripts, but new and broader scripts will be introduced using the new creative resources they have.

Just as there is no limit to what IAS Murder Division will do, there are also no limits to where they will go. The company is a regional asset and has performed at places such as a campground in Jefferson, Ohio and The Italian Fisherman Club in Bemis Point, N.Y. The group is even open to the opportunity to travel anywhere in the country.

There are no restrictions on the size of the groups they perform for, either. The company typically performs in front of private organizations and groups, but they will perform for any size group in any venue. There are always shows on their agenda that are open to the general public, too.

Audiences can be sure to check them out this year at Peak n’ Peek May 7, The Titusville Train in Oil City July 30, August 27, and September 10, 17, and 24, or The Riverside Inn in Cambridge Springs October 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, and 22.

Wherever audiences flock to see the group, they can be sure to be dazzled by the versatility of the actors who were hand-picked and skimmed from the top talent available in Erie. Delozier believes they are the best and largest murder mystery group east of Chicago and west of New York City and has even received letters that compare their humor to that of Saturday Night Live and Second City.

When asked what he enjoyed most about his experience with the group, Delozier replied, “Being around amazingly creative and talented people that are willing to take a chance in the name of a better show, and always striving to improve the show, so that each show will be better than the last.”   

So anyone who wants to sharpen their sleuthing skills while interacting with this hilarious bunch of characters should not miss an evening with IAS Murder Division, Inc. You never know what will take place in any given evening. You may encounter a “chick fight” in the restroom, you may be held hostage, or you may play a game in which you find yourself in an uncompromising position. In any event,audiences can be sure the actors will be dying to entertain them.                  

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