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Mystery at Shady Acres

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Mystery at Shady Acres is a mystery-comedy that was performed in 2007 by the Cornerstone Thespian Society and was produced by special arrangement with Pioneer Drama Service, Inc. Englewood, CO. An interactive version was re-edited and re-released online in 2012.

Mystery at Shady Acres Poster

Film Details Edit

  • Release Date: May 10, 2007 (Play); March 1, 2008 (DVD); August 17, 2012 (Re-release)
  • Running Time: 68 min.
  • MPAA Rating: G
  • Director: Teresa Bermudez
  • Producer: Teresa Bermudez
  • Writer: Michelle R. Davis

Plot Summary Edit

WARNING: This section contains spoilers. If you do not want to find out what happens, skip to the next section.

The film begins with the daily routines of the hotel's owner, Miss Henrietta Clifford, as she makes sure that the three maids and the bellhop Basil finish their work, since the wealthy and famous Edward and Blanche Fairfax are coming to stay at the hotel. As Henrietta Clifford and the maids head off, Basil greets a mysterious man that is simply referred to as Mr. X. Despite some banter, Mr. X gets situated in his modest room.

Just then, the elderly Brighthams arrive, hauling with them loads of bags. Basil, mistaking them for the Fairfaxes, gets excited and pampers them. However, he gets a talking-down from Miss Clifford, who directs them to their actual room.

The character of Stanley Larson is introduced as a playboy that hangs around with the maids, but gets in trouble with Miss Clifford. He soon sees Mr. X, but does not recognize him.

After Basil ducks behind the desk, Audrey Rochester arrives, only to be greeted by a sneezing Basil. Miss Clifford is summoned to take her bags, but this soon results in an argument. While they banter, Stanley shows Audrey to her room.

After this, Edward and Blanche Fairfax arrive at the hotel, much to the excitement of the hotel staff. Edward is happy, but Blanche is less than thrilled. After signing in, they are guided to their suite. They soon return, only for Edward to encounter Audrey. Apparently, Edward and Audrey were once engaged, but Edward's family forced him to marry into wealth, thus breaking off the engagement. Audrey feels some resentment, but states that she would rather be with Stanley. Afterward, Basil and the maids try to fulfill the Brightham's request for more toiletries, but are cut off by Stew LaRoach, who sets up rat traps around the lobby.

Around 11 o'clock that evening, The three maids talk, then head off. Edward and Blanche return from dinner in Shadyville, but Edward forgets his pocket watch in the taxi. Going back for it, Edward leaves. Blanche sits down as Greta brings out a cup of tea. Blanche accepts it, drinks it, and falls asleep. At the strike of 11 o'clock, a disembodied hand grabs Blanche's diamond necklace. Basil, working the night shift, wakes up and finds Blanche asleep.

The next morning, the Shadyville police force, led by Chief Wickfield, talk to the hotel staff and guests. However, one of the officers, in a latent manner, accuses Edward of the theft. Insulted, he storms off. At this point, the four officers look over the evidence from the crime scene that they found. They scour the lobby for more clues, which results in the arrival of Detective Philip Thorton and Emma Reid. Apparently, Edward hired them to solve the case in response to his rude treatment at questioning. Their arrival is not welcomed with open arms, but in the spirit of friendly competition, Thorton invents a contest. If the Thorton Detective Agency solves the case first, he will advertise his agency at the Shadyville Police Station. If the Shadyville police force solves the case first, Thorton must pay for the police's coffee and doughnuts for the next year. Reluctantly, Wickfield agrees. However, behind their backs, the Brighthams stole all of their evidence, leaving them to interrogate the hotel staff and guests.

After several interviews, Dorrit reports that Mr. X left the hotel. On top of this, the Brighthams are caught for their thievery and Stew LaRoach quits, leaving Basil to blow up the kitchen while preparing lunch.

Out of options, Chief Wickfield sits down, alone in the lobby. Dorrit invites her to join them at the cafe in town, and Wickfield agrees. Just then, she notices the audience for the first time. She invites them to use their knowledge of what has happened and give clues on who might have taken the necklace. She heads off.

The viewers are then invited to explore the hotel. Throughout the hotel are clues to who might have done it, while newspapers scattered around talk about New England's Notorious Arsonist. However, in the staff lounge, someone locks the viewers in, forcing them to bust out through another door. After exploring for clues, the viewers fill out their informant tip sheet.

When Chief Wickfield returns, she questions the audience about what they have seen and found. Taking this evidence into account, Chief Wickfield heads off to continue the investigation. However, right behind her is Detective Thorton, who tries his best at asking the audience questions. However, he is interrupted by Emma Reid, who declares that she is leaving the Thorton Detective Agency. Thorton tries to reason with her, but she will have none of it.

That evening, Blanche insists that she and Edward leave, but Edward and Miss Clifford keep her at the hotel. Mr. X then suddenly returns, stating that all will be revealed. Thorton returns and declares that he has solved the case. Inviting the guests and staff into the lobby, he boasts about his detective agency, then promptly accuses Basil of the crime, solely because he was the only one everyone knew was in the lobby with Blanche when the crime occurred. He has not found the diamond necklace, but he urges Basil to find it for him.

After they head off, the officers arrive to clarify the solution. While taking money into account, jealousy became the primary motive that leads them to rightfully accuse Audrey Rochester of the crime. She is taken away, then Mr. X steps in to clarify the arsonist. A S.A. initialed handkerchief belongs to Stanley Larson, or Stanley L. Arson, who was in cahoots with Miss Clifford (who locked the viewers in the staff lounge during intermission) to burn down the hotel so that she could collect the insurance money. Miss Clifford is arrested and Stanley, who tries to flee, is killed by Mr. X.

Thorton returns with Basil, but is soon unraveled by his own ineptitude. Edward fires him, and he must now pay for the officers' coffee and doughnuts. After all is said and done, the hotel is now closed and the staff is unemployed. However, Edward hires them to help around their house. After they leave, Stew LaRoach returns to the lobby, wondering where everyone went.

Production History Edit

Late in 2006, the Cornerstone Thespian Society was in the midst of picking two plays to put on that spring (one for each class). While around eighty scripts were ordered, including The Last Gladiator, Unwrapped, and Chateau La Roach, this one was picked for its simplicity in staging. The older class performed The Prince and the Pauper.

However, to make the play more relevant for an American audience and to make it easier for the cast to perform, Shady Acres Hotel was moved from England to Vermont and Edward and Blanche were made British. The play also featured seven members of an English Tea Garden tour, but they not only complicated things in an unnecessary way, they were entirely pointless, as they were not even listed as suspects in the official informant tip sheet. The only reference to this left in the final production is a sign outside the hotel and a line spoken by Ingrid Brightham.

To make up for this loss, several jokes were added throughout to both lighten the mood and to establish more possible motives for each suspect. Through all of this, the play stayed on track for its May 10 debut, which it achieved. It was released on DVD a year later.

In 2012, as part of the From the Vaults collection, it was announced that this film would be completely re-designed for an online re-release. This included adding the intermission game Shady Acres Super Sleuth and upgrading the sound and video quality. While it dropped the From the Vaults branding, it was re-released that August.

Audience Reception Edit

In its initial performance, the play was highly praised, selling out at every single performance. For comparison, The Prince and the Pauper failed to attract audiences and bombed financially.

For its 2012 re-release, however, it got far less attention, despite all of the changes that were made. However, some of the performances were praised in this re-release.

Mistakes Edit

  • Continuity Error: In all of the close-up shots, the large portrait over the fireplace is that of Judy Barringer. However, in the wide shots, it is a portrait of a Kilroy doodle from Kilroy Was Here!.

Characters Edit

Credits Edit

Trivia Edit

  • While Lois Banks and the rest of the English Tea Garden tour was cut out of the film, a homage is paid to this character in Shady Acres Super Sleuth, since this character is listed in the guest register. Other characters listed include Mustache Max, Patrick, and Theodore Parkington.
  • The portrait of Judy Barringer was added to pay homage to her. She first founded the Cornerstone Thespian Society and had since retired.
  • Shady Acres Super Sleuth was added in the re-release because editor Andrew Bermudez wanted to revive the interactive intermission that the live performance had.
  • The original play takes place in the 1920's. The Mustache Maniacs Film Co. version is set in the present day.
  • The play's alternate title is Carats and Crumpets.

External Links Edit

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