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At-home murder mystery allows you to choose your own adventure

Lots going on: Student Art Auction featuring 'amazing artwork', jewellery, clothing, baked goods and more will benefit Lighthouse's Building Hope campaign

Lots of arts and creative things to talk about this week. Could this be a sign of things to come? We sure hope so!

First, a couple of big things that you are going to want to sign up for.

This weekend is the last chance to enjoy NewWerx Production’s at-home, choose-your-own-adventure murder mystery, Carnival Mayhem!

New Werx is based in the Niagara area, and was founded during the pandemic by former performers from the award winning Oh Canada Eh Dinner Theatre in Niagara Falls, which sadly had to close its doors due to COVID-19.

Former Orillian, Autumn Debassige, reached out to OrilliaMatters to let us know about this exciting new venture and her lead role in Carnival Mayhem.

What is an at-home, choose-your-own-adventure murder mystery? How does it work?

“Guests buy a ‘camera” to participate in this fun, interactive murder mystery," Debassige explains. "Buyers can expect a full-length (two hour), interactive adventure through a haunted amusement park where they must attempt to solve a case that has been cold since 1987.

"Guests travel via Zoom links around the park where they interrogate suspects in real-time, solve mini puzzles to get to hidden rooms with extra clues, experience virtual carnival rides, have their fortunes told and they even have the chance to win real prizes such as coffee, music, and restaurant gift cards," she explains. 

"Game play is highly variable ('Choose your own adventure'), since it all revolves around decisions made by the player about which place to visit and which questions to ask (or not ask). No show is ever the same!”

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? But why Carnival Mayhem?

“The world likes carnivals, amusement parks and thrill rides," said Artistic Director Lee Siegal. "There’s nostalgia in a carnival. There’s comfort and fear there. The atmosphere of a carnival lends itself well to a ghost story because we’ve all seen, at the end of a night, the lights start to flicker out, the paths empty and the excitement just becomes a dark, hollow place. What lurks there?

“That was the base idea for Carnival Mayhem, while the 80s was chosen for its nostalgia, plus it was a time without cell phones when friends actually hung out together without the interruption of texting and social media posting," Siegal explained.

“Being stuck in a pandemic also helped with this idea. We’re missing being able to go to these events, so how could I bring a virtual version to our audience?" she asked.

"We have literal virtual carnival rides that the audience partakes in, experiencing a brief moment of that ‘laugh in the dark’ scare or a tunnel of love moment from the comfort of the couch," she said.

"The sights we are all familiar with that bring comfort and fun memories. The entire evening is designed to be an escape from the world we’re in now, and there just happens to be a mystery to solve along the way.”

The purchase of one 'camera' at can accommodate up to six same-household players. The regular cost per camera is $32 plus tax. However, there is a special coming up; on May 21 tickets are just $20 plus tax. Carnival Mayhem runs until May 23.

The second major thing coming up is the Student Art Auction Fundraiser for The Lighthouse’s Building Hope initiative.

This fundraiser starts May 27 at 6 p.m. with an opening gala over Zoom, and ends on May 29 at midnight. The event is taking advantage of the James A. Burton 3:1 fundraising challenge, which triples the amount of dollars raised. The goal is to hit the $25,000 mark.

How does it work? Buyers sign up, now, to be bidders on amazing student artwork as well as jewellery, clothing, baked goods, stuffies, and more. Buyers will receive the Zoom link for the gala as well as instructions for bidding on their chosen items.

The auction organizers are also still looking for sponsors for the event and interested businesses can become sponsors for as little as $50.

To check out the items being auctioned so far, or to be a sponsor or a buyer, click here. This is your chance to be part of Building Hope and to support these hardworking student ambassadors! Don’t delay, sign up today!

Mariposa Arts Theatre (MAT) is feeling its way out of the pandemic and collaborating with the Stephen Leacock Museum, both very good things. MAT has a call out for auditions to be in a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which will take part outdoors, socially distanced, at the Leacock Museum between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6.

Auditions will take place over Zoom on May 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. and May 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. MAT is looking for actors/musicians/singers for this fun gender-bending Shakespearean comedy. For more information and to sign up to audition, click here.

 Rehearsals will take place over Zoom until it is safe to meet again in person. I am a big fan of the outdoor Shakespeare plays the city has sponsored in the past, and it will be wonderful to have our very own Mariposa Arts Theatre produce an outdoor play this summer…a way out of the pandemic, for sure.

Please participate in the Public Art Survey for the City of Orillia. It is a short, easy-to-do survey which allows you to have a say in public art here, moving forward. Click here to participate.

Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) has a couple of fun things coming up. Two new shows are opening: Will McGarvey's Sticks and Stones and Jill Price's Unfurled: Unsettling the Archive From a More-Than-Human Perspective.

Given that the museum is still closed although the shows are opening, OMAH is hosting a virtual opening reception moderated by Arts Programming Coordinator Tanya Cunnington. Both artists will give a short slideshow and talk followed by a Q&A session. The exhibit opening is May 27 from 7 to 8 p.m. and registration for this event is free through the OMAH website, here.

The next fun thing is the Charles Pachter Art Auction, which now comes with…chocolate mousse! Yes, you heard it right here! OMAH is pairing up with The Common Stove for this delicious add on, so check out all the details on the OMAH website or Facebook page, here. The fun starts June 1!

Finally, save the date for the Orillia Secondary School virtual Spring Concert on June 9 at 7 p.m. More details as they come!

And, Creative Nomad Studios is releasing virtual tours of its stunning space, through its social media channels. Check out tour number one, here.

Have a wonderful sunny long weekend, brighter days are ahead!

If you have arts news, send to by Tuesday at noon to be included.