July 28, 2010 —
A tragic accident struck world-famous escapologist Harry Copperfield at the Carnegie Circus Saturday night during the final act of the performance when the performer was caught in his final trick and drowned.
Commissioner Cadfail and Detective Hugh Dunnit were called to the scene of the crime to investigate, and cordoned off the area. All suspects and witnesses were required to remain for questioning. However, during their investigation, the accident was ruled a homicide.
The murder most foul came at a time when the circus owner, Carlotta Carnegie, was struggling to keep her circus open under the burden of new city regulations that prohibited the use of animals in any performances, limiting the acts that the Carnegie Circus could show to a very few. The death of her star performer, Copperfield, threatened to shut the circus down for good.
Thus began the murder mystery organized by Director/Producer Pam Smoke for the benefit of the library, attended by a large portion of the community and raising $1900 for the library. It was held in the Community Center which had been decorated as the big top by Pam Smoke’s team in crepe paper, with posters and sculptures.
While the Commissioner and Detective investigated and questioned the suspects, refreshments of fair food, including corn on the cob, corn dogs, hot dogs, Italian sausage, popcorn, peanuts, sno cones, cotton candy, ice cream and lemonade were served to the audience by a dedicated crew that included Mary Tanner, Zander Stiverson, Rachel Stiverson, Clay Leonard, Kara Lennard, Erin Smoke, Mary Tanner, and Lori and Ed Lancaster. Admissions were directed by the capable hands of Lisa Close.
The murder mystery library fundraiser has been running now for five years, and Pam Smoke has had many actors return reliably over the years. “I’m very lucky to have the cast I do,” she said. “They’re very talented.” That cast, comprised of Dennis Smoke (Commissioner Cadfail), Dave Rickard (Detective Hugh Dunnit), Denise Handy (Carlotta Carnegie), Jan Rickard (Raisa Legova), Joshua Stiverson and his son Will (Sven Garlic and the Dummy Benny), Abby Smoke (Ima Vailable), Rick Handy (Anna Conda) and Ray Lennard (Buster Gutt), had only a few rehearsals before they performed the murder mystery for the public. Much of the performance is ad-libbed, which speaks to the skill of the actors involved.
Dave Rickard, who played Detective Hugh Dunnit, an English master sleuth who had newly joined the investigative team, pointed out, “We probably have more fun putting this on than the audience does watching it for the same reason that the sports teams have more fun in the championships – it’s the camaraderie, the getting together to put everything together.”
In regards to the director, he added, “Pam’s just great. She and Abby get these things and rewrite them so that they make sense, and they put all of this together.” Jan Rickard, who played the gypsy jack-of-all-trades, Raisa Legova, said, “Pam made all the props, including the dolls, and her daughter made the elephant.”
The show was a great success, full of laughter as the members of Carnegie Circus and the investigative team together discovered the true murderer with the help of the audience. Pam Smoke and her crew are looking forward to doing it all again next time.