EagleARTS hosts successful Murder on Broadway event | VailDaily.com

EagleARTS hosts successful Murder on Broadway event

Over 100 people participated in the interactive murder mystery in downtown Eagle last week

The Murder on Broadway cast with EagleARTS event coordinators Jennifer Filipowski and Tara Novak.
Wendy Griffith Photography/Courtesy Photo

Last Friday, EagleARTS hosted its second Murder Mystery fundraising event in downtown Eagle. The James Bond-themed evening, called “Murder on Broadway: The Spy Who Killed Me”, drew around 100 people to the town, all walking through local businesses in search of clues that would help them solve the question: who killed James Blonde?

The Murder Mystery night is the latest initiative from the EagleARTS nonprofit, which works to enhance the quality of life in Eagle through the development of arts and culture. Program director Tara Novak said that these events are all about increasing community engagement in the downtown area.

“This project was an expansion on the art walks that I started in November of 2018,” Novak said. “I was trying to brainstorm some ideas and get community people to come together to try to bring some vitality to downtown Eagle, because it was so cute, but there was nobody down there.”

Seeing the success of the art walks in bringing people out, Novak started looking for the next idea. She and EagleARTS board member Jennifer Filipowski worked with the town and a nonprofit called Downtown Colorado Inc., which provides support to downtown development initiatives across the state.

“They suggested that the next thing, as far as arts-type things, which is my realm, would be to do something that’s more experiential, something that’s interactive,” Novak said. “Something that brings people here for a reason, like a ‘wow’ purpose.”

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‘Detectives’ listening for clues from suspect Golden Eyes at a casino vignette in the Vail Valley Art Guild Gallery.
Wendy Griffith Photography/Courtesy Photo

The result was the Murder Mystery event: an interactive affair in which ticketholders become detectives in an unsolved homicide. Volunteer actors, each of whom tells a story with a clue in it, are set up in different local businesses along the downtown area, and attendees are challenged to collect information from each location and try to guess “whodunnit.” In order to win the game, a player must guess who did it, how they did it, and with what motive.

The inaugural Murder Mystery fundraising event in 2020, a Chicago speakeasy-themed mystery, was a resounding success and received a Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence in 2021.

This year, the murder victim was James Blonde and the setting was the Kasino Royale. The seven suspects were all typical Bond-movie characters, such as the arms dealer, the assassin and the megalomaniac. Six Eagle businesses were converted into miniature theater sets for the evening, so that players were moving from the hotel bedroom where James Blonde’s body was found, to the reception area, to the casino, all while getting to know the local Eagle businesses that were hosting the scenes.

Suspect Golden Eyes telling her alibi story at the ‘Casino’, which was staged at the Vail Valley Art Guild Gallery.
Wendy Griffith Photography/Courtesy Photo

At the end of the night, the killer was revealed to be renegade Russian general Boris Blastimov, who murdered James Blonde with poison-laced vodka because he was protecting his cover as a nuclear arms dealer. Only four out of the 100 participants guessed all three answers correctly, and won gift cards to local businesses for their efforts.

Novak said that in addition to bringing people to the downtown, the event fittingly displays and encourages a wide variety of art forms. All of the attendees were encouraged to come in costumes, and a prize was awarded for best costume.

“People get dressed up, so there’s a fashion-arts element, and there are the theatrical design elements,” Novak said. “We have to get our set designer caps on and make vignettes in each spot so that people feel like they’re in a casino, or in a restaurant, or they’re in a hotel lounge or that kind of a thing. So it incorporates different types of arts, as opposed to the normal that you think of for an art walk as being paintings and sculptures and jewelry and things like that.”

Costumed game participants discussing the mystery at the ‘Kasino Royale restaurant’ staged at Everyday Outfitters.
Wendy Griffith Photography/Courtesy Photo

In addition to the memories made and the exposure that local businesses receive, the event also raised $9,000 that will go towards supporting more creative community events in the future. The next Murder Mystery on Broadway will take place on Feb. 10, 2023, and in the meantime EagleARTS will continue to bring life and excitement to the streets of downtown Eagle.

“People want to get involved because they enjoy it and they feel the joy of just having fun and doing something different,” Novak said.

For more information about EagleARTS and other upcoming events, visit their website at EagleARTS.org or their Facebook page, @eagleartscolorado.

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