Orinda Starlight Produces a Spooky Halloween Fundraising Event

(Contributed Photo)
Kelly Hansen stars as one of the suspects, Medisa Oggorn, in Halloween Haunts, Jaunts and Murder.

    The Orinda Starlight Village Players (OrSVP) return in October with a new Zoom Murder Mystery fundraising event. “We had to cancel our 2020 regular season due to COVID-19,” said OrSVP Marketing Director Suzan Lorraine. “Not all is lost, though, as we have been presenting an online murder mystery game on Zoom, the interactive video meeting software.” Over 125 people joined the July/August Zoom event and many have donated a ‘ticket’ to help with fundraising efforts.
    Malcolm Cowler, director of the July/August Zoom Murder Mystery, is back at it with an original murder mystery for October: Halloween Haunts, Jaunts and Murder. Participants have been invited by the Count to the annual Halloween Ball in Castle Caldura. At the stroke of midnight, celebrations get abruptly halted with the discovery of the Count’s body in the chapel with a stake through his heart. That makes it time for participants to figure out “whodunit” to escape from the castle.
    The game lasts about one and a half hours and runs Tuesday and Thursday nights, starting Oct. 6. It plays throughout the month, with a special presentation on Halloween (Oct. 31). The game is free. Reservations, however, are required because Zoom seats are limited. “We’re getting more skilled at handling larger groups. We’ve been shooting for up to nine connections per show, but there are often multiple guests on one connection,” said Cowler. “Our cast is just as professional and reliable as they always have been.”
    Cowler said their biggest issue with the game involved technical problems with the Zoom platform: “Challenges include making sure participants are muted when it is required so random audio doesn’t intrude on the actors; timing slide and video sharing so they show smoothly integrated within the show; and, keeping an eye on lost connections and making sure participants can get back online quickly if necessary (luckily we’ve not lost anyone to a power outage yet).”
    In addition to the Zoom game, OrSVP is releasing a video of the 2014 production of Bram Stoker’s Dracula just in time for Halloween. “We’re sure you’re missing our live performances in the park this season, and we hope this presentation from our 2014 season will, in some way, compensate for this,” said Cowler. The free video is available at www.orsvp.org throughout October.
    This year would have marked OrSVP’s 37th year producing shows in the Orinda Community Center Park Amphitheater. According to Cowler, “None of us have been able to experience all the joys of theatre in the park. As a result, no money is coming in to pay for storage of set pieces, costumes and props or the rights to plays or set supplies for the planned 2021 shows.” In addition to the Zoom game, Lorraine set up a GoFundMe page to help raise needed monies to support the little theatre company through the year. Visit www.gofundme.com/f/Orinda-Starlight-Village-Players for more information. “It’s financially touch and go as to whether we’ll be able to return for our 38th season,” said Lorraine.
    The lineup for 2021 includes Agatha Christie’s Towards Zero, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (the inspiration for My Fair Lady) and Malcolm Cowler’s stage adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Marvelous Land of Oz. “Anything you can give or encourage others to give will make our season possible,” said Lorraine. Everyone involved with the theater volunteers, and no one is paid. “Every penny goes toward the production of the three plays produced each summer,” added Lorraine.
    For more information or to make reservations, visit www.orsvp.org or email info@orsvp.org.

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