Von Richter and DiFonzo co-write spring play

Student-produced Alpha Psi Omega murder mystery comes to the Schuster Theatre this weekend

Madeline Bruce, Editor-in-Chief

Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre will debut its production, “Merry Murder Mystery,” at 8 p.m. Thursday as part of the ongoing Mini Fringe Festival. 

The show is written and produced by students Regan von Richter, a senior digital media communication and theater technologies and designs major, and Anthony DiFonzo, a senior criminal justice major. Both hold leadership positions within the theater fraternity Alpha Psi Omega at Gannon. 

“I volunteered to write and produce this show because I had such a fun and amazing experience when I performed in the first ever murder mystery in 2019,” von Richter said.  

The murder mystery show in 2019 was the first of its kind at Gannon and was also a part of that year’s Fringe Festival. The show, titled “To Die, to Sleep, No More,” was written and produced by then-students Isa Foltz and Petra Shearer. Both von Richter and DiFonzo participated in the 2019 production and drew inspiration from it. 

“I always looked up to both Petra and Isa when they were students at Gannon, and their show was fun to be a part of,” von Richter said. “Anthony and I were both inspired to recreate a new murder mystery show with our own flair and style in hopes of creating an APO or Fringe Festival tradition.” 

While von Richter hopes to create a Fringe Festival tradition from this, murder mysteries aren’t necessarily typical of the festival. 

“Fringe is different every year, as we try to incorporate different styles, genres and productions to both challenge and educate actors and producers,” she said. “We do, however, try to incorporate a student-directed production each Fringe Festival.” 

“Merry Murder Mystery” begins at an office Christmas party, planned to celebrate the holiday and the appointment of a new CEO. Then, a key character mysteriously dies in the middle of the party and, much like in the game Clue, everyone in attendance becomes a suspect. 

According to von Richter, this is the point when two comical detectives jump in to solve the mystery of who committed such a heinous crime at the Christmas party. 

“Throughout the show, a series of clues will be revealed, along with those in the office who match the description of the clues, in order to solve the murder mystery,” she said. 

Audience members will have the opportunity to play along with the production, as they will be given a clue card to write down who they think matches the description of the murderer. Once all of the clues are revealed, the audience members will turn in their cards. Those who guess correctly will be entered into a drawing for a prize. 

But, DiFonzo said, solving the crime won’t be easy. 

“Thankfully, the two detectives show up and try to uncover all of the clues to figure out who committed this horrendous act; however, it may not be as simple as it would seem,” he said. 

DiFonzo also said the show will be a great way for members of the Gannon community to sit back and relax for an evening. 

“I think everyone will truly enjoy the show,” he said. “It’s a wonderful escape from normal day-to-day life.” 

Anthony Nunez, a freshman theater communication major, auditioned for “Merry Murder Mystery” because he wanted to contribute to a production that DiFonzo and von Richter had put hard work and dedication into. 

“I thought it would be a fun time, and I wanted to be able to bring their show to life,” he said. 

Nunez plays the role of Chad, a finance specialist and the vice president of the company. 

Other cast members include sophomore Hayden Eiss as Jason, sophomore Grace Dible as Katie, sophomore Stella Przybylinski as Bethany, junior Lydia Nemeth as Venus, sophomore Marino Martin as Lewis, sophomore Emily Merriner as Sarah and senior Dan Baker as Harry. DiFonzo and von Richter are also cast members, playing Dick and Janice, respectively. 

Overall, von Richter hopes that the Gannon community appreciates and engages with “Merry Murder Mystery.” 

“Humanities and the arts are often overlooked, but our hope is that the Gannon community will help advocate for and showcase talented and creative performers and designers that we have right here at Gannon,” she said. 

“It is such a lighthearted and funny show that I hope people will laugh at and enjoy when they come see it.” 


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