CCAC Hosts Night of Chocolate Fundraiser

Thursday, February 18, 2016
A scene from the pie baking contest, central to this year's murder mystery theatre presentation by the CCAC.(photo courtesy Frank Staples Photography)

Patrons of Clay County arts enjoyed dinner and a murder mystery/comedy Saturday evening, Feb. 13. More than 150 guests remarked on the beauty of the tables and the deliciousness of the catered dinner offered by Traveling Wisk. The murder mystery comedy Murder at the Pie Auction, by Michael Druce, was well received by a responsive audience.

One of the highlights of the play included an authentic pie auction. Two donated pies were auctioned with more than $200 going to the fire relief fund for the Robert and Stephanie Jett family from Piggott, who lost everything in a house fire Saturday, Feb. 6. Funds for Clay County Arts Council scholarships were raised with the auction of 10 pies baked by Madpie's Tea Room and Shoppes in Piggott. Over $1,500 was raised for the scholarship fund, a remarkable accomplishment reflective of the generous spirit in Clay County.

The audience laughed and applauded throughout the play, which told the plight of Mother Mabel's Pie Baking Contest and Auction mistakenly being held in tiny, "not on the map" Mynute, Alaska. How the location played into the murder mystery action complicated matters and created additional laughs. Character Roxie Roberts, played by Piggott's Patty McHaffey, said the town reminded her of Antiques Roadshow or Jurassic Park.

The show's pie baking competition ran strong with pie bombs, death threats and extreme jealousy among Julia Lyle (Cathy Norred of Piggott), Eve Simone (Tonya May of Piggott), Roger Marble (McKain Holman of Piggott) and local representative Minerette Towers (Tracy Horton of Rector). When it was time to reveal the winners, to everyone's shock, Julia Lyle did not win first place as was her good fortune (or fix) the previous four years. Julia "fainted" several times to the delight of the audience.

One of the locals from Mynute, friendly Phoebe Muffet, played by Debbie Adams of Rector, added many laughs and much delight to the action on stage. Glenna Bookout of Rector played the noted pie judge Gay Templeton, who was murdered and stuffed into a freezer "between turkey thighs and ham hocks." Threatened by both Julia Lyle and Felicity Hubbard (Jane Gatewood of Rector) to choose Lyle as the pie winner for the fifth consecutive year, Templeton "checked out" and was replaced by a celebrity judge, Roxie Roberts, who initially said she was an actress. Roberts later revealed herself as Roberta Rex, undercover detective from Baltimore, investigating the murder of Betty Botter who was writing a controversial tell-all book about the cut-throat pie baking industry.

All the action made Hubbard's job quite difficult and she let everyone know how she felt about the "not so upper crust" pie bakers and about miniscule Mynute, Alaska, using sarcasm and wit to add some chuckles, brightening an "already horrible situation." To make matters worse, her assistant Markie Tucker (Janet MacDonald of Piggott) was working behind her back to sabotage Felicity's efforts to promote Mother Mable's brand.

After the curtain closed on scene three, the audience guessed the identity of the murderer. Four tables won fried pies from Batton's as their reward for guessing Tucker as the villain, the one who killed Betty Botter in Baltimore, Gay Templeton in Mynute, and the one who created rival Granny Goode to "put the nail in the coffin" for Mother Mable.

At the conclusion of "one big convoluted, complicated mess" of a pie baking contest and pie auction, all was not lost as Elvis (Chuck Bridges of Piggott) was in the house and danced and sang to "Hound Dog." Bridges performed at the Mynute Senior Center and as the cast made their curtain call.

Dinner music was provided by Larry Norred. Auctioneer for both the real and pretend auctions was Michael Hollis, who entertained the audience and was a natural in his role as Humphrey Dumphry. Portraying bidders for the Mother Mabel's Pie Baking Auction were John James of Piggott, Kim Romine, Peggy Grimes and Charlie Grimes, all of Rector, and Heather Lack of Piggott, who offered $5,000 for a fried pie.

The Piggott and Rector communities once again joined forces to present a delightful evening for Arts Council patrons and to raise funds for scholarships offered through the Arts Council each May. The play was directed by Gail Burns of Rector, who was assisted by Piggott's Tracy Cole. Cole also played multiple roles, bringing eruptive laughter at her comic representation of the body suffocated by friendship dough and frozen "solid as an ice sculpture."

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