Alpha Psi Omega presents ‘Merry Murder Mystery’

Actors in Christmas crime play produced by students at the Schuster Theatre kills it in final weekend


Schuster Theatre/Facebook

Cast of spring Christmas play dress in full festive costume for the occasion.

Madeline Bruce, Editor-in-Chief

An office Christmas party, spiked punch, a tarot-card-reading IT expert and a murder mystery reminiscent of the board game “Clue.” What do all of these have in common? They’re all components of the plot of Schuster Theatre’s “Merry Murder Mystery.” 

The show, which ran Thursday through Saturday, was completely student written and produced, with seniors Anthony DiFonzo, a criminal justice major, and Regan von Richter, a digital media and theatre technologies and designs major, collaborating on the project. 

“Merry Murder Mystery” revolves around seven employees of an undisclosed company, of which a new CEO, Jason, played by sophomore Hayden Eiss, was just appointed. The play begins just as the party does, with employees filing in one at a time and mingling while sipping punch and eating snacks. 

Jason then gives a speech, after which he suddenly falls to the floor in a coughing fit. The rest of the employees, including his wife Katie, played by sophomore Grace Dible, and mistress (who is also the secretary), Bethany, played by sophomore Stella Przybylinski, rush to his side in shock. 

Out of the audience, two “detectives,” Harry, played by senior Dan Baker, and Dick, played by DiFonzo, spring up with enthusiasm to help the distraught group. After comically, and painfully, making their way through a row of audience members, they appear on stage with a criminal justice textbook and a notepad. 

The “investigation” commences, as it is revealed that Jason was poisoned through the punch, and the events in the days preceding the murder are hashed out and clues are revealed to the audience to help them find out who committed such a heinous crime at a Christmas party. 

Throughout the course of the play, it is revealed that each employee had his or her own motive for possibly poisoning Jason. Sarah, the HR rep played by sophomore Emily Merriner, was the runner-up for the CEO position. Chad, the VP of the company played by freshman Anthony Nunez, got Jason his job and expected to become CEO before his best friend. Katie knew Jason was cheating on her with Bethany, and Bethany was, well, having an affair with Jason. Meanwhile, Lewis, played by sophomore Marino Martin, did all of the work that Jason got all of the credit for. 

Being that the cast of “Merry Murder Mystery” was made up of mostly underclassmen, it is clear that the Schuster Theatre is full of budding talent that will carry it through the next few years and has the potential to dictate its future.  

Dible and Przybylinski so effortlessly performed the wife-and-mistress-of-a-murdered-man relationship that the audience would think they were actually having this feud in real life. 

Martin emulated the role of the nerdy, youthful intern perfectly, complete with snapping suspenders and an awkward demeanor. 

Nunez portrayed the jerkish, clearly-a-former-jock, finance bro, Chad, with just the right amount of arrogance. 

Junior Lydia Nemeth, who played Venus the IT specialist, continued to shine in the Schuster spotlights with her eccentricity and outstanding acting as she gave everyone at the party their tarot card reading. 

Merriner stunned the audience a convincing, explosive and jealous Sarah, whose tight updo literally unraveled as the show progressed.  

Although they are seniors, Baker and DiFonzo brought the comical relief needed for a play that centered around a murder. 

And, despite the fact that he lay on the floor for most of the show, Eiss did stellar work in the role of Jason, especially when he came back to life, only to fight Sarah and be killed…again. 

Von Richter and DiFonzo produced what was yet another great show for the Schuster in the midst of a pandemic, and they should be commended for it. 

The next show in the Schuster Theatre’s lineup is “Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight,” which runs April 21 through April 30. Tickets go on sale in April. 


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