Alfred Kinsey… Detective and Media Professor?

By Mona Malacane

It’s a real life game of Clue. A night of murder, mystery, and dinner fit for our department’s most theatrically talented individual, Mike McGregor. Earlier this year, Mike attended an annual murder mystery dinner fundraiser hosted by The Friends of TC Steele. The mystery incorporated local historical figures, such as Dr. Alfred Kinsey, some of Dr. Kinsey’s staff, Hoagy Carmichael, and Herman Wells. Set in the 1950s, the premise of the script is that President Herman Wells invited a group of friends to dinner to “discuss the work of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, and to generate financial and political support for his work,” Mike explained. But after the hors d’oeuvres, the night takes a turn … and the dinner guests are treated to an evening of live music, food, beverages, and a murder to solve.

whodunit

Mike played the part of Dr. Kinsey, a character he was already familiar with and somewhat familiar to … (see the pictures below). Because Dr. Kinsey plays a rather large role in the evening’s events, Mike and others who played the key roles were given their scripts before the dinner; those who wanted to play smaller roles were given cue cards at their seats that had conversation starters for table talk. “For example, among Kinsey’s staff there was a lot of partner sharing … So that became the fodder of the table talk. All sorts of reasons for a potential murder.” From that point on, everyone stayed in character for the remainder of the evening.

Don't they look a lot alike??

Don’t they look a lot alike??

So the night begins with a catered meal, Hoagy Carmichael at the piano, and a welcome introduction from President Wells. He is followed by a speech by Dr. Kinsey who starts to introduce his staff but realizes that one of them, Clyde Martin, is missing. At this point no one is particularly concerned about Clyde’s absence so he continues on to talk about his recent publication, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. As Kinsey is being criticized and critiqued by the dean of the music school, Clyde staggers in with a gunshot wound and clutching a note from the killer. President Wells can’t reach the sheriff so Kinsey recruits the help of his dinner guests to find the killer. Until this point, everyone at the dinner knew what was going to happen from reading the script. However, after Clyde staggers in, only two people know what will happen next – one of them is Mike and the other is the murderer.

The plot thickens throughout the evening as clues arise and guests try to figure out whodunit. As they are being served dessert, the dinner guests were instructed to write on a piece of paper who they thought killed Clyde and to provide a rationale. At the end of the night, awards were given to the guest who identified the killer, and also for the best performance. The evening was “filled with drama,” twists, and a grand finale!

Mike explained that one of coolest – and unexpected – twists of the dinner was that some of the guests actually knew the figures who were being played. For example, Mrs. Kinsey was played by a woman whose mother (who was also at the dinner) was friends with the Kinseys and was interviewed for his research.

Mike's award for Best Performance

Mike’s award for Best Performance

The dinner was performed/hosted on two weekends in February and Mike won Best Performance one of those nights. John Walsh also attended one of the dinners and played one of Kinsey’s staff; he won an award for correctly naming the killer. If you’re dying to know who the murderer was, I’m sure one of them could tell you …

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