Relay for Life of Holt had its fifth annual murder mystery fundraiser Feb. 22, and this one just might have been the last. The event featured dinner and a show at Charlar Place to raise money for cancer research.
For $20 and a phone call, anyone could reserve their seat at the fundraiser. Guests received a gourmet dinner and also had the opportunity to bid on silent auction items including everything from movie posters donated by Celebration Cinema to a signed photo of Draymond Green from Michigan State basketball.
The night’s entertainment was an original murder mystery play written by Crystal Collins and Amanda Johnson. The story was set in the Prohibition era and centered on the murder of Tommy Gunn, a violent gangster, at his birthday party. The audience and cast members spent the evening listening to clues and trying to guess who had the motive and opportunity to commit the crime.
“Only (Amanda) and I know who the killer is,” Collins explained with glee during the intermission after the first act. Despite their difficulty finding actors to volunteer for the fundraiser, Collins and Johnson created an entertaining play full of puns and plot twists.
“You could say I’ve spent a long time behind bars for… spending a lot of time… behind bars,” joked Tony Amirante’s character, a bartender by the name of Bart Ender. He also happened to be the son of a gangster that the victim, Tommy Gunn, had had killed some months before.
By the time the mystery was solved, every character looked guilty in the eyes of the audience, who cast their votes at the end as to which partygoer performed the deed. As it happens, Crystal Collins’ character was the murderer, a professional singer and dancer by the name of Roxanne Redlight who moonlighted as an assassin for hire and killed Tommy for the radical Temperance group.
Throughout the night, volunteers encouraged donations to the fundraiser to solve an even bigger mystery: the cure for cancer. “The reason that I relay is I have actually been touched by cancer myself, between my mom and my brother, so I’ve actually joined the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network,” said Tina Voss, the event coordinator.
But though the fundraiser has been going for five years now, Collins says that Relay for Life of Holt will likely not do another one next year. “It’s a lot of work,” Collins said regretfully. “It brings in a fair amount of money, but it is a lot of work.”