Hello, I am Madame Cluedefti provider of knowledge, fortuneteller and know-er of all things murder mystery. Through my secret information you will make your affair triumphant! By learning How to Hire a Murder Mystery Company, you will undoubtedly host an entertaining evening for your guest’s and be confident that you made the right choice. How to start? First you must learn to compare.
We all know you can get just about anything on the Internet. You can buy a shake-weight, a sham-wow or even a bride! It’s all available at the click of a mouse. Apparently you can also buy a murder mystery online too—the downloadable kind. While this is by far the cheapest option ($40-$80), it is also rather underwhelming. Unless you’re throwing a party for 5 people in your den, downloads should be pretty down-low on the list. Price and Quality Let’s face it, only two things really matter in the decision and that’s how good it is and how much it costs. The key to comparing murder mystery companies is to know the important features and how they will (or won’t) benefit you. Make sure you’re getting what you pay for, shopping around and asking the right questions. First Question: What is the scale and prestige of your event?
If your event is being hosted in a paid venue, with a large guest list – perhaps over 80, let’s not sell the patrons short. Your occasion is special, make sure the production is as well and give the audience what they came to see; a quality show. Measuring this is not as subjective as you may think. Let me illustrate with a simple analogy. A big screen TV seems great when it’s in a living room. People look at it and say “Wow that’s an awesome TV you got!”. However, if you put that same big screen TV at the front of a movie theater, people will walk in and say “What kind of a screen is this! What a rip off.” As you can see, big rooms and big crowds require QUALITY.
People often have preconceived ideas about what a show should be and you need to avoid the “Big under-delivery.” That means the company needs the basics like lighting, a sound system, costumes, and a set or backdrop. Transforming the setting is crucial in audience participation. Lights are needed to change the mood and ensure all guests can SEE the performance. A backdrop is necessary for dramatic setting changes. Sound equipment is necessary for the audience to HEAR the actors. Do not underestimate the value of these basic elements when choosing the acting company for your murder mystery party. You want to “wow” them and provide an excellent time! More people, means more theatrics; does the murder mystery company provide this? If they do not have these paramount capabilities then they should not be considered for larger events over 80 people. Next Questions Now that we have filtered out the amateurs, there might still be a few companies that you need to compare “apples to apples”. Let’s state an important fact here—entertainment is inherently subjective. Period. The truth is a one man show with a super talented actor might be better than a 60 person cast in front of a million dollar set. However, despite this there are certain facts that will give a STRONG indication of the likely quality. You can do this by asking or checking the following: How long have they been in business? This is an easy way to separate the professionals from the inexperienced. It is easy to throw together a website and say you’re “in business” - but the truth is, quality comes from having a good ground game and having the processes and logistics needed to perform show after show, week after week, year after year. Usually, the longer they have been around, the better. How regularly do they perform and how many shows have they done?
Many companies only do a handful of shows a year as a fun hobby. However as any grade school teacher knows perfection comes from repetition. Check their website or Facebook and see how many shows they perform. If their calendar is empty or their Facebook has not had a post in 6 months, cross them off the list. Good equipment costs money, companies don’t buy good equipment to do 10 shows. Companies that do 200 events a year do. Conversely if you discover a nationwide company that claims to do 2,000 shows a year, put your foot on the break. Yes, they may have a great business portfolio but ask yourself - how many shows have the actor’s done local to Pennsylvania and New Jersey? Separate them from the company as a whole and you will get your answer and it’s not 2,000.
How many performers are in the show?
A rule of thumb is: the more artists the better the show and the larger the audience the more actors there should be. Of course there is some subjectivity to this as two amazing talents will rock an audience as surely as 6 poor ones will annoy it. But know this; the number of actors is an important metric to understand because it tells you where the company is investing most of their money. Fewer entertainers means the company earns more profit. If you’re comparing two companies charging a $1,000 and one has 4 actors, the other 1, well it’s simple to see where they are investing. You want as much of your money earmarked for quality, not their wallets.
What does the show LOOK LIKE?
When you buy a car you can visit the lot and go for a test drive. Kick the tires, look at the paint job and check under the hood. Not so with entertainment. Fact is, unless you go see one of their shows you really have to take their word for it. However, quality can usually be detected by watching a murder mystery companies videos and looking at their pictures. Forget the graphics and snappy artwork on their website, look deeper at their show photos on Facebook or watch some of their videos on YouTube. The best companies do not hide their content— they flaunt it! If you’re considering a Murder Mystery Company that has 30 videos, a 1,000 stills to a group that has nothing—it should raise a red flag! They either have not done many shows, or worse, they would rather you not see them.
What does this mean? How can I be the judge?
1]Are the actor’s arriving in professional costumes or what they found in their closets?
2] Is there good lighting or just the fluorescents up in the ceiling?
3] Is there a visually appealing set behind them or just the door to the men’s room?
4] Can you see audience members or is it just the actors posing?
Murder Mystery Shows, just like any theatrical performance is VISUAL. People want to EXPERIENCE a show, not just look at some guy standing in the middle of the room bantering. The quality of their production will tell you how serious they are in their profession. Do they have any Reviews? Google, Yelp, Yahoo are great search engines on finding actual customer reviews for Murder Mystery Companies. This day and age people are not shy about how they feel about a product or service. Take a look and see their reviews. If you notice a lot of angry complaints for one company and only a few (or better yet none), that says it all. Don’t inherit someone else’s problems; social proof is a good indicator of customer satisfaction.
The Myth of “Audience Participation”
Behind Every Fact Lies a Myth. Be aware of some industry jargon before selecting your company. Using the word “interactive” or “Audience participation” in your sales pitch is a great way to entice customers to your brand. But beware, if an acting enterprise relies too heavily on this, it may be because they do not want to pay enough actors. In consequence, your audience will do most of the performing by reading cue-cards. While this may be a wonderful cost cutting idea for a company, it is not always successful for you, the client. While it’s true, sometimes you have a great audience of gregarious folks who will have a blast with this; fact is you shouldn’t bet on it. Many people DO NOT WANT to get up in front of other people. Most likely they will sit in constant fear of being picked by the actors. Others when selected can be quiet and uncomfortable, especially if this is a company party where they all know each other. There is a REAL FEAR of looking foolish in front of your friends and coworkers that often results in long awkward periods that will have guests cringing in their seats. Remember! This is supposed to be a night of fun, relaxation and hilarity - not a giant stress ball! A murder mystery company’s savings is not worth jeopardizing your event. The cold reality is some interactivity is good but using the audience to do parts injects far too much risk and uncertainty into the equation. It should be avoided.
The Myth of the “National Company”
Some companies advertise and state that they perform “all across America” or “serve nationwide”. While this may technically be true, the unheard truth is, no theater business can successfully operate like that. Longer drive distances (3 hour drive or more) almost always equals low quality and higher cost. The reason for this is simple math. To fly 4-5 actors, all the equipment, travel pay, lodging and then make a profit would mean that the company would have to charge an exorbitant fee. Since almost no customer would ever pay this, it nearly never happens. So how do some companies say they ARE doing shows nationally? It’s because they SELL a murder mystery show but DELIVER one actor with no set, no lights, and no equipment. They fly out a single host for the same cost as a full production would be for a local company. So unless you really live in the wilderness and there are no local companies, get the most for your dollar and hire locally. Remember, you’re on the line when you Hire a Murder Mystery Company. This decision will reflect you and your abilities to pick the right entertainment for the evening.
The Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company has been in business since 2000. They have executed over 2,500 shows together and average 150 a year. With 3 generations of experience under their belt - they are true acting professionals. Riddlesbrood can provide for any scale of show and budget. They offer three tiers of entertainment: Low, middle and high and post their prices publicly. Other companies will interview you first and then provide a quote based off the conversation - potentially withholding some perks that could make your Murder Mystery Party really shine!
I urged you to shop around when hiring a Murder Mystery Company, because I know you’ll be back. To check out past performances of the Riddlesbrood gang, see their Facebook Page Here and YouTube Page Here. For upcoming events be sure to check out their Murder Mystery Show Calendar Here. They operate in NJ, DE, NY and PA. If you have any questions, please reach out to them directly at 866-276-6399.
By Clyde P Riddlesbrood