by Richard Moore

Roughly three years ago Ways  Means began discussions with the Dearborn Symphony regarding collaboration of a fundraiser to benefit both organizations. Several ideas were hatched and a year ago the two determined it would be a murder mystery. Plans came together quickly and a site was chosen – the 19th District Courthouse of Dearborn. A date just prior to Halloween and ahead of the general election was chosen. Brian Townsend was tapped to write the script, fresh off his success of Murder Comes To Uptight Abbey. Sandy Butler, president of the Symphony, and Gloria Nychek chaired the event alongside Richard Moore.

The Guild’s responsibility was to create and perform the production while providing the publicity, decorations, lights, and assistance with ticket sales. These roles were led by Melissa Foster, Diane Kaplan, Dave Reynolds II, Tracey Boudreau, John Sczomak, and Frann Stempek. The Symphony managed ticket sales and organized the event. Sponsors included Park Place Catering who provided dinner and desserts, and Merchants Fine Wines who started the evening with two specialty martinis – the Smokin’ Gun was an audience favorite, especially for Juror #5!

The storyline began with Foster Fjord (Mike Moseley), a wealthy, mean, sponsor of the arts – ready to provide substantial financial support to both organizations. His faithful assistant, Peggy Croche (Tiffany Mullins ), followed his every move and took  quite a bit of abuse from her boss throughout the dinner.  Other guests included Fjord’s family members: his drunken brother, Fester, (Phil Booth), his first ex-wife, Phyllis (Val Haas) and son, Phillip (Brian Townsend), his floosy second ex-wife, Fiona (Leah Cooley), as well as the court baliff , (Kirk Haas).

Needless to say, each of the family had plenty of reason to murder Foster, and one accomplished the task during Fjord’s presentation which was conveniently just prior to the donation announcement. Since Peggy cried out, “I’ll see you dead before you ruin anyone else,” she seemed like the perfect suspect and was arrested. A trial quickly ensued and 12 mostly sober jurors were selected.  As an additional feature of the fundraiser, three roles were sold to the highest bidder – Susan Dabaja, Ali Hammoud, and Mayor Jack O’Reilly graciously sponsored and played the role of Judge, Prosecuting Attorney, and Defense Attorney, respectively. Witnesses were called and, one by one, left clues for the jury. Juror #5 (Smokin’ Gun) led many outbursts and had to be summoned to the bench by the Judge. Our wonderful actors were able to spill many clues. The trial concluded and the jury was escorted to a back hallway to determine the fate of Ms. Croche. Since dessert and dancing awaited the cast, jury and audience, a fast decision was made. Although Ms. Croche was nervous and had fidgeted throughout the trial, she was exonerated as Foster deserved what he got for his outlandish behavior. Not Guilty!   

In the end both organizations will split the profits and look forward to our next collaborative endeavor.