February 2024
To Die For
Unique immersive experiences from Preskitt Mystery Company

From Greek tragedy to Edgar Allen Poe to documentaries about serial killers to the hundreds of “true-crime” podcasts, we have always been enthralled and entertained by murder.

While our area boasts nearly unlimited entertainment options, till last year the most likely ways to enjoy a murder-mystery dinner here were either a private party or with a traveling troupe. Enter the Preskitt Mystery Company. From its inaugural performance in May 2022, this production company of local performers has entertained hundreds of people in sold-out shows.

Each mystery is a unique and different story, and the goal is to engage the audience and create a truly interactive experience. Each show takes place at a special event, so far including an 80th birthday party, a wedding, an annual meeting, an environmental benefit, a wine-tasting, a production cast party, and a product-launch party. Amazingly, at each event someone is murdered, and it’s up to the party guests to solve the crime.

With the level of detail the production company puts into its events, patrons have consistently felt they were walking into a simple party, not a murder mystery. In the show ’Til Death guests were invited to witness a couple exchanging vows before a reception. They were asked to sign the guestbook, tie knots in the hand-fasting ribbons, watched the couple cut the cake, and even received Jordan almonds as wedding favors. Patrons were heard whispering to each other that they were “crashing someone’s wedding.” In 2023’s first show, Ob La Di, Ob La Die, a fictional company, Montgomery Enterprises, hosted an environmental benefit to try to undo some of the damage it had caused. This show included live music (songs by The Beatles, of course) by local band The Osbornes, an environment-friendly meal, cupcakes and free flower seeds to take home.

The executive producer of Preskitt Mystery Company often refers to herself as “a serial killer but doesn’t kill alone.”

Randy Skidmore as Kenneth Yates, an unfortunate chemist in A Look To Die For.

The fun comes from the energy and cooperation of the cast. Very little of the show is scripted. Instead, each actor is assigned their character and has to respond to what’s happening in the moment. Conversations and actions with and among the audience create the rest of the story. Patrons quickly learn to pay attention to every little detail and exchange, so when the opportunity to help solve the murder comes, they have the whole story. Nearly every actor who has participated, and nearly everyone who has come to a show, has returned for another one.

Each event combines the theatrical production with a delicious meal from a local catering company or restaurant. The partnerships between the producers and caterers tie the event together. For example, A Finely Aged Murder, the story of an Italian family feuding over competing restaurants, played at Mogollon Vineyards, which provided the wine and meal, featuring flatbreads, caprese salad and other delightful Italian treats.

Since its second production the Preskitt Mystery Company has partnered with Cupcakes By Leanne to provide a sweet treat to end each meal. Leanne creates a unique cupcake for each theme. For Murder on the Agenda, which took place at the annual meeting of the (fictitious) Prescott Paranormal Society, Leanne created cupcakes with chocolate headstones.

The coming production, Beware the Ides of Mayhem, will take place in the Elks Performing Arts Center’s beautiful Crystal Hall on March 15 and 16 at 6pm. This will be based on the idea of a college homecoming, and feature catering by Palatable Persuasions as well as Cupcakes By Leanne. These shows are expected to sell out. Tickets are available through the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts website, prescottelkstheatre.org.

For more on the Preskitt Mystery Company, look up PreskittMysteryCo on Facebook.

Lizabeth Rogers covers the local-theatre beat.

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