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Middletown murder mystery theater group kills

By Alexis DeBrunner
On February 14, 2014

Who killed Dan BlackMoore? This is the question the Bunny Hollow Players will be asking their audiences at their Friday and Saturday shows, Feb. 14 and 15, at the Middletown Verity Lodge.

The Bunny Hollow Players is a revived version of an old theater group brought back to life two years ago by Miami University students Christyn New and Brittany Angel, President Kayla Philpot said. The group has since transferred to Wayne State. BlackMoore will be the third production that the Bunny Hollow Players put on, and will also be the third show they have completely self-created.

"So far, every production that we have done has been written by the group as a whole, or individuals in the group," Philpot said. "Tanner Battishill, my co-president and Miami Hamilton student, and Zach Caudell, a member of the Middletown community, wrote this particular production. As a group we sat down and decided what kind of thing we wanted to do with the theater but they are the ones who made it come to life."

The Bunny Hollow Players have a unique dynamic because, while they are a student-run organization, Philpot said they are not exclusively comprised of Miami students; members of the Middletown community contribute as well. Caudell, for example, who co-wrote the BlackMoore production, is not a Miami student, but the same age as many of the other players.

BlackMoore, the production, is an interactive murder mystery show that Philpot said will be filled with lots of twists and turns. The audience should be prepared to be interacted with. BlackMoore is also not the first interactive dinner theater that The Bunny Hollow Players have put on.

"Our first production was called 'Murder at Red Beer Tavern,'" Philpot said. "It had the same feel, it was a murder mystery dinner theater with both improv and scripted scenes. It was our very first show and everyone really enjoyed it, we put on three nights and had a full house all three nights and decided to make it a regular thing."

Senior Christina Price, one of the Bunny Hollow Players, elaborated on what an interactive show meant, and what the cast strives for in order to entertain the audience.

"Blackmoore isn't as interactive as the last show we put on," Price said. "But we definitely have spots where we hope they will jump in. For example, a large part of the show takes place at an auction where my husband, who has died, has his things being auctioned off. It is at the auction that we discover a DVD explaining he has been murdered, and that whole scene is a great place for the audience to get involved."

Audience members are not required to participate, but Price said she encourages them to.

"We obviously don't force anyone to get involved, but during the auction, if people want to raise their hands and bid on items, that makes it more fun," Price said. "We might be including a 'who did it' section in this show, I'm not sure yet, but most of the interaction with audience will be coming during our improv sections where we will just talk to the audience to get them involved."

Philpot said Bunny Hollow strives to make sure all its members are involved as much as they want to be.

"We have about 12 members right now, six are in the show and the rest are behind the scenes or wait staff serving food," Philpot said. "We are Bunny Hollow, we are not a professional acting group and it's important to us that we get our students involved because what's the point of having a drama club on campus if not everyone can get up there and get involved if they want to?"

Junior Hannah Reeg said while she had never heard of the Bunny Hollow Players, she would be willing to try going to their interactive show just to see what it is like.

"I feel like most college students at Miami might not really be into that whole scene, but it could be something really interesting and different to try out," Reeg said. "If I went I don't know how much I would personally interact with the show, but I would like seeing others do it."

Philpot said she would encourage all Miami students to call and reserve tickets if they are interested in the show because they have limited availability and it fills up fast. All Miami students and staff get discount tickets at $8, and the doors at Verity Lodge open at 6:15 p.m. for the show and close at 7 p.m.

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