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This Week on Mystery Theatre:
Arsenic, Old Lace, and Obnoxious Padre

May 12th, 2022

For a gallon of elderberry wine, I take one teaspoonful of arsenic, then add a half teaspoonful of strychnine, and then just a pinch of cyanide.

That’s Aunt Martha’s recipe for wine with a kick (as in kick the bucket) from Joseph Kesselring’s dark-comedy classic Arsenic and Old Lace, and it’s too bad Jonathan Brewster and Dr. Einstein didn’t get the message.

<<< Dr. Einstein (Matt Henderson) and  Johnathan Brewster (Alex Blair) in Prime Stage Theatre’s Arsenic and Old Lace.

The same can be said for Humphry Jones and Janet Kessinger in Prime Stage Mystery Theatre’s “A Most Deadly Poison.” When we left them in last week’s episode, Janet has just fallen to the floor after downing a glass of Obnoxious Padre wine. She should have known it wasn’t safe to drink. The truth was on the label.

Last week, folks attending the preview and opening night performances of Arsenic and Old Lace had the chance to examine that label at a Mystery Theatre display in the lobby of Pittsburgh’s New Hazlett Theatre.

Also on hand at the display were bottles of Stained Fork Ale and Roast’d knife IPA, as well as a mug of Goofy Odour Tea and some shortbread cookies labeled simply  A Set of Tea Biscuits. The challenge was to interpret each of those labels and determine which selections (if any) might have been poisoned.

Audience members ponder the “Most Deadly Poison” clues before Prime Stage’s preview performance of Arsenic and Old Lace.>>>

Rising to the challenge much better than the character in “A Most Deadly Poison,” some of the folks attending last week’s performances had the puzzle solved by intermission, and you’ll get to hear their insights on upcoming Mystery Theatre episodes, starting with the one that drops today via your favorite podcast app.

Also, if you stop by the Mystery Theatre page at the Prime Stage website, you’ll find a newly designed menu for navigating the current and past chapters of the series. It’s a great way to follow the multi-episode adventures of super sleuth August LaFleur and the New Towne Players. And for those of you who want to cut right to the solution of the Obnoxious Padre puzzle, the button below will let you dive straight into this week’s episode, which also features an interview with Arsenic director Liam Macik.

Click play … and I’ll meet you there!

Get out Your Spyglasses and Wineglasses:
A New Chapter of PSMT Begins Today

May 5th, 2022

Would you drink a wine labeled Arrogant Frog? How about Big Ass Red or Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush?

Yes, they’re real wines, and just a few of the crazier ones listed in a Vinepair article titled “10 Of The World’s Weirdest Wine Labels.” And although a recent article in Bloomberg claims that winemakers use such names “to signal how different their wines are from traditional estates’ conventional vino,” one might wonder if there is more going on.

And you may well wonder the same while listening to this month’s installment of Prime Stage Mystery Theatre, which opens with twelve characters circling a table in the drawing-room of a Victorian mansion. On the table is a selection of drinks labeled Obnoxious Padre, Stained Fork, Goofy Odour, and Roast’d Knife.

The challenge: determine which drinks are safe and which–if any–have been poisoned.

Titled “A Most Deadly Poison,” this latest chapter of the Mystery Theatre podcast begins today (May 5), two days ahead of the opening night of Prime Stage Theatre’s presentation of Arsenic and Old Lace–the diabolical classic that The New York Times called  “swift, dry, satirical and exciting” upon its initial release, and which is likely to deliver all that and more under the direction of Liam Macik, who previously directed (and wrote) Prime Stage’s 2019 adaptation of The Scarlet Letter.

Liam is also one of the hosts of the horror film podcast Fright Pub.

Arsenic opens May 7 at Pittsburgh’s New Hazlett Theatre, at which time patrons can drop by a special Mystery Theatre display to examine clues from “A Most Deadly Poison.” It should be a fun night.

Promoted as “the mystery podcast where you are part of the story,” each Mystery Theatre episode concludes with a cliffhanger, question, or prompt that encourages listeners to propose solutions to the mystery or make suggestions regarding what should happen next.

Since its debut in 2020, the podcast has featured comments from listeners who have offered suggestions ranging from how to enter locked rooms to where one might find a devil’s door.

Folks interested in actively taking part in the next Mystery Theatre investigation may do so by posting comments at PrimeStage.com/contact or by stopping by the Mystery Theatre display on Arsenic‘s opening night.

Since the stories themselves center on a cast of returning characters, new listeners are encouraged to catch up on past episodes before the new season launches. Those installments include the confounding locked-door who-done-it “A Knavish Piece of Mystery” (Episodes 1-5), the missing person mystery “The Play’s the Thing” (Episodes 6-10), the Frankenstein-themed tale “A Trap Full of Monsters” (Episodes 11-15), and the time-travel puzzler “Time is Out of Joint” (Episodes 16-20).

Picking up where “Time is Out of Joint” leaves off, “A Most Deadly Poison” opens in a Victorian mansion where nothing is as it seems … and where an uncorked bottle of wine and a mysterious portrait will lead listeners to uncover a plot of deception and murder.

All episodes are available free of charge, with folks who enjoy the show encouraged to support Prime Stage Theatre’s mission of “bringing literature to life” by making donations in any amount at primestage.com/support.

So get out your spyglasses and wineglasses, and join us as PMST returns with its most puzzling case ever.

Click the player below to enter the mystery. I’ll meet you there!

Coming May 5 to PSMT:
Episode One of “A Most Deadly Poison”

April 14th, 2022

With Prime Stage set to release a new season of Mystery Theatre in May, there’s no time like now to catch up on past installments, all of which are available on Apple,   Audible,   Deezer,   Libsyn,   Spotify, or the podcasts page at PrimeStage.com.

Each season features an all-new five-act mystery, with most episodes running between 10-15 minutes–just right for taking a mystery break during your busy day.

Our Season 5 story, “A Most Deadly Poison” (set to coincide with the premiere of Prime Stage’s presentation of Arsenic and Old Lace), picks up where Season 4’s “Time is Out of Joint” leaves off.

Here’s the setup:

You are in a round Victorian drawing room, gathered there with mystery writer August LaFleur and ten members of the New Town Players.

The mahogany-paneled walls are carved to resemble pleated curtains and drapes, which you find amusing, since the room has no windows. What it does have are three large paintings and a boar’s head trophy.

Two of the paintings are landscapes: The first depicts a line of trees reflected in a placid lake; the second, a golden sunset mirrored on a glassy beach.

The third painting is the portrait of a young woman, her head and shoulders angled away in a three-quarter turn that highlights the soft curve of her jaw. Pale ribbons hang from a bow on the back of her bonnet while around her neck, a darker ribbon accentuates her pale complexion. The collar of her blouse is trimmed with lace. Her hair shimmers with golden highlights. And though you see her only in profile, she looks strangely familiar. You have seen her before, but for now, you are too caught up in the moment to remember where.

On the wall opposite the woman, the trophied head of a decapitated boar snarls with upturned tucks. It is the room’s only threatening aspect, at least . . . that’s your first impression.

As with all previous stories, each episode of “A Most Deadly Poison” will conclude with a question or prompt, giving you a chance to take part in solving the mystery. And if you’re planning to attend the opening night of Prime Stage Theatre’s production of Arsenic and Old Lace, be sure to stop by our Mystery Theatre display, where you can examine the clues presented in the first episode of “A Most Deadly Poison” and offer your theories for a solution to the mystery.

Arsenic and Old Lace opens at Pittsburgh’s New Hazlett Theatre on March 7, two days after the first installment of “A Most Deadly Poison” hits the ether. It’s going to be one of our trickiest mysteries yet, so be sure to have your spyglasses, notepads, and wine glasses ready when this one drops on May 5.

And … once you catch up on those past installments of Mystery Theatre, be sure to check out the video below from Gregory Hall (aka The Funky Werepig). He has a book recommendation that Mystery Theatre fans will not want to miss (IMHO).

Take it away, Mr. Hall!