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Win, Lose or Die

By Brittany Strother
On November 11, 2015

One Theatre 101 has been up to more than just reciting Hamlet’s monologues and analyzing Broadway performances. 

Dr. Karen Vuranch and one of her introductory theatre classes took things just a step further, by rehearsing and performing an original theatrical work written by Vuranch herself. The piece was an audience-interactive murder mystery game show entitled “Win, Lose, or Die!”

The show started out with a game show host, cleverly named “Holly Wood,” opening the latest episode of presumably hit television game show “Friendly Feud.” As one could guess, the show was remarkably similar to global phenomenon “Family Feud” and invited fellow actors onto the stage to answer simple, silly questions and win prizes. At the apex of the show, two teams of four are brought onto the stage, and the audience gets a first-time view of the dissention among the team of engineering students. When the buzzer system goes awry, the students on the team all offer to fix it, and disappear offstage with the mechanism. In the meantime, Holly keeps the show alive until they return. 

When the students have successfully fixed the machine, the show must go on. Unfortunately, it is disrupted yet again when fan least-favorite Fuchsia, who had been set to go next on the show, is tragically (sort of) electrocuted when she slams her hand down on the buzzer. Despite valiant attempts to save her, she doesn’t survive the shock, and then a stunned audience and game show host are left to deduce who could have committed such a crime and why they would do so. 

This is where the real audience fun starts. After identifying the five main suspects, Holly Wood opens up to the crowd and lets them interrogate the suspects at their leisure. 

Thirty minutes of family feuding, dating drama, and academic atrocities later, the audience is handed a sheet of paper and a pen, and asked to put their name on it and then place the paper in a bag corresponding with the suspect that they believe committed the crime. Finally, the perpetrator is caught and arrested, and the memory of Fuchsia is avenged! 

After announcing the identity of the killer, anyone who had guessed correctly was entered into an impromptu raffle and one lucky attendee was awarded with a gift basket courtesy of the Advancement Office. 

Overall, this was a fun idea and a great way to break the cycle of a typical general studies course. It gave the students a great way to really get to understand the inner workings of a production, and the audience interrogations were great to keep the actors thinking on their feet and sharpening their improvisation skills. It had the best turnout of any event hosted at the Subway Stage recently, and the audience really seemed to enjoy watching the onstage antics of the cast and throwing themselves into the mix as they tried to determine the plausibility of each suspect’s alibi. 

The show was suitable for all ages, and the crowd featured attendees from all generations. Children especially enjoyed questioning the suspects. The show featured a cameo appearance from Academic Dean Dr. Peter Viscusi and even attracted the attention of university president Dr. Kendra Boggess. 

The event was free to students and anyone else was interested in the show, and the large crowd was not disappointed by the performance, if the raucous applause at the end was any indication.  If an encore performance should ever arise, anyone who didn’t watch the show should definitely make an effort to see it. 

Congratulations, Dr. Vuranch and her Theatre 101 class, for a great performance and a successful turnout. Oh, and rest in peace, Fuchsia. 

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