You’re all invited to the residence of Sir Reginald Carstairs here at the College in the neighborhood of Ewing on the outskirts of London in the days of Sherlock Holmes.
Nestled along the Thames River, the College has a long history of higher education and intrigue.
Carstairs has been in the center of it all for the past several years while serving as headmaster for the university.
The lights flashed on, illuminating a small stage decorated solely with a microphone stand.
A woman slowly walked on stage gazed out at the audience, not a whisper could be heard from the awaiting spectators.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there has been a murder,” announced the host.
The Mixed Signals, an improv comedy group at the College performed a murder mystery show sponsored by the College Union Board at the Rathskeller on Tuesday, March 19. Audience members were ecstatic to be involved in the investigation of who killed Reginald Carstairs through interactive interrogations of the suspects.
Among the line of accused were Alan Smithington (Jonathan Dowler), Beatrice Maidstone (Nina Shulgach), Butcher McGhee (Dan Loverro), Patricia “Patty” Muffintop (Lindsey Nice), Claude Castairs (Steve Munoz) and Elizabeth Homily (Morgan Teller).
Their backgrounds ranged from a wide-eyed prospective student to the dean’s son, each equally guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of the audience.
“I had so much fun playing the role of Beatrice! I saw some cheesy fries and my character became upset but that was the victim’s favorite food. And I kept building on it, that’s my favorite part of improv, you can just walk into a scene with an accent or a limp and have NO idea what’s going to come next,” said Nina Shulgach, a junior nursing major.
Amongst the varied audience members were true murder mystery fans, making them a hard sell for the Mixed Signals.
“It was hilarious!” said Remy Lourenco, a senior women’s and gender studies major. “I think adding the interactive element was fantastic.”
The investigation was then opened up to the spectators who had a chance to ask each character about their personal lives, relationship to the victim, or alibis.
This initiated a slew of hushed relationships, broken promises and secret vendettas.
Roars of laughter and awe-stricken gasps enticed the passing customers at the Rat, further widening the crowd.
The performance ended with the mocked persecution of Patricia “Patty” Muffintop for the murder of Reginald Carstairs. As the host so eloquently put, Patty sought only to “frost her cupcakes with Reginald’s blood.”
He apparently swindled her attendance to the school with promises of financial help, but soon grew tired and didn’t keep his promises.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the nature of the performance and found it to be unlike anything else I’ve seen at TCNJ,” said Megan Osika, a sophomore English, secondary education and women’s and gender studies triple major.
It was a general consensus that the show was a hit.
Prizes were awarded to the team who guessed the right suspect and to the actor who played the most convincing role.
The audience was actively engaged throughout the performance and some wondered if more murder mysteries were to come.
Correction: This article initially said that the Mixed Signals hosted the event, but they performed at it, while the College Union Board sponsored it.