Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Glowing Review Our New Show Deserves

Christopher Manson, Act4 Ninja, writes:

I got up a little earlier than usual Sunday morning and fired up the computer, expecting to see some glowing reviews of the previous evening’s world premiere of Act4Mystery’s “Sweet and Deadly.”

Sadly, the local media went to sleep on this event, which leaves me to contribute the sole glowing review of the show.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I performed in this show, and I was amazing.
Saturday, October 23, brought the world premiere of Act4Mystery's SWEET AND DEADLY to Samuel's Roadhouse in Crestview. The crowd at Samuel’s has been very receptive to the hijinks of Paula Hilton and her troupe of players over the years, and last night was no exception.
And for good reason. The show was dynamite.
First off, this is one solid cast -- Chris Manson as Bunky Wonky, Kay Yarbrough as Mama Wynona, Cynthia Bergquist as Kitty Wonkus, and Jim Downum as Tommy Wunkus — have performed brilliantly in these roles in previous shows, yet they have individually brought fascinating new layers to their familiar characters without sacrificing the funny.
Mary Ann Troiano, who in the past portrayed the conniving ex of both Mr. Manson and Mr. Downum’s characters, launched into a new role as a carnival worker hilariously named Connie Bee Rebel.
Once again, our femme fatale pits best friends Bunky and Tommy against each other, but thanks to the next-level acting, this routine remains fresh and funny. Ms. Troiano, dressed in a sexy outfit complete with body-strangling leather pants, does not regurgitate her old Becky character. She does something completely new, and it’s funny to boot.
As always, Ms. Yarbrough and Ms. Bergquist mine for comic gold with great success. The latest plot twist finds Mama a recent Powerball lottery winner — and heavy drinker — with Kitty pursuing Bunky and depleting her mother’s recently earned fortune.
When Connie Bee enters the picture, conflicts rear their ugly ol’ heads, and this well-oiled cast delivers the goods. Whether they’re up in each other’s faces hollerin’ or dancin' — quite well, thanks to the efforts of Act4 choreographer Rochelle Kimball — to a golden oldie from the Hollies, this is a show for the ages.
I can only hope this marvelous cast will mount this show again in the very near future. Writer and Act4 founder Ms. Hilton has birthed a script full of comic gems and jaw-dropping plot twists. SWEET AND DEADLY deserves a wider audience, and I’m certain it will find one.
Again, I must mention Mr. Manson, who is quite brilliant and continues to amaze me with his virtuoso versatility.
For news about upcoming performances, I encourage you to visit as often as possible.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Cutting Loose!

I don't know how many people out there who follow us have their own small business. But this blog is for you! Just wanted to let you know I totally understand how the smallest thing can have the biggest impact where a small business is concerned.  This came into play last week when our lawn guy accidentally cut our business line. Cut it. As in... cut it. He was cutting the shrubs, but also cut the phone line. And the phone quit ringing. And then we start getting Facebook messages, "Hey, you aren't picking up and it's not going to voice mail!" And, "Did you know your phone just rings and rings?" We didn't know the line had been cut, obviously, so two days later when CenturyLink arrived and found the problem, it was already too late for our weekly show. No phone, no calls, no reservations.

Just the smallest thing can knock a small business to their knees. If I mess up making a change on our website, for example, which did happen a few months ago, suddenly the website is no longer accessible. I owe Brenda Shoffner at the NWF Daily News a big thank you, by the way, as she actually emailed me and let me know my website was broken.

Or if power or water goes out at the restaurant even for a few hours, forget about seeing us! This actually happened a few years ago. A water pipe was knocked out, and the entire Okaloosa Island was without power. No restaurants, no traffic lights, so no Act4Mystery either!

Then there's all the little day to day things that can put us right on the edge. I've run out of printer ink at midnight the night before a show when I'm trying to print out our handouts. So there goes the Act4 Ninja, running to "The Walmart" in the middle of the night so I can finish getting everything together.  I've forgotten to buy props and even forgotten a certain costume or prop is broken and needs repairs until right before the next performance. So human error can also throw a big wrench into the works - and yes, it's usually my error but not always...

I have one actor who forgot we had a show! He wasn't at the restaurant on time, so I started to worry, gave him a call, and found him just getting off of his boat.  The conversation went something like this:

Him: "Why are you calling?"

Me: "Because we have a show tonight and you're in it!"

Him: "Oh CRAP!"

I could go on and on. We've been performing for FIFTEEN YEARS and the stories are endless. But for now, I'll just end with the phone is working again and we're currently back in business! So give us a call. We're a great excuse to get out and... cut loose!   -- Paula

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Belly Laughs and Whipped Cream

I realized as I gave my iced-coffee a healthy squirt of whipping cream this morning that every day should include this delicious mouthful of sweetness. That and a good belly laugh. I'm thankful I'm able to provide some of those for the folks here on the Emerald Coast. And not just here, I have groups around the country and the world who perform my shows.  So, in a sense, I'm helping to promote World Peace through giggles and guffaws.

We handed out a few of those last night at Samuel's Roadhouse Grill in Crestview with a show I wrote in 2010 called HORSIN' AROUND WITH MURDER. The show centers around a real-life event that occurs every 4 years called the Federation Equestre Internationale (French: International Federation for Equestrian sport) World Equestrian Games. For those of you with inquisitive minds and would like more detail, here's a little blurb from their website:

"The FEI World Equestrian Games™, held every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle, is one of the biggest events on the global sporting calendar, combining eight equestrian World Championship caliber events in a pre-determined location. The FEI disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining – are all included on the competition schedule, while equestrian-focused demonstrations and exhibitions will also be hosted throughout the duration of the event. The 2018 edition of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ will be held in Mill Spring, NC, over thirteen days from September 11-23rd, 2018 at Tryon International Equestrian Center."

In 2010 was asked by a murder mystery theater owner from Lexington, Kentucky, Dana Edison of Bluegrass Mystery Theater, if I had a show about horses. I didn't, so decided to write one. I had to learn all about this event and the disciplines involved. Honestly, it made me want to hop in the car and head up to the event! And I still feel that way.  Maybe I will this year!  But in the meantime, I hope you can come see HORSIN' sometime this summer - it's on the schedule for La Paz in Destin, and won't be back until 2022 when the games return. The actors in the show - Cynthia Bergquist, Susan DeJesus, Jim Downum, Chris Manson and Sally Whitesell, are fantastically funny. And I couldn't spread all this World Peace without talent like theirs. 

Thanks to all!  -- Paula Hilton 

Deneeze Areshot (Susan DeJesus) and Houston Dallas (Jim Downum)  get cozy near the horses.

Taryn Wear (Cynthia Bergquist), Deneeze Areshot (Susan DeJesus) and Cheyanne Sassy (Sally Whitesell) make nice.

Steed Roper (Chris Manson) and Cheyanne Sassy (Sally Whitesell) make nice and make cozy!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

It's been too long...

... since I've had the time or opportunity to perform with Act4Mystery. Honestly, it takes up all my time writing new shows, directing, producing, advertising, modifying our website and dealing with all the things you have to deal with when you have a small business.  Add to that the decision to change our name from Act4Murder to Act4Mystery and you can imagine the amount of "free time" I have.  Not much. So the idea of learning lines and getting out there again was a little daunting. But the opportunity came up, I felt sort of caught up, and so I decided to do it. And what fun I had!

We had two performances of KNOCK 'EM DEAD this week where I played the deliciously funny role of Miss Royal Payne, a real royal pain! We had great audiences at both La Paz in Destin and Samuel's Roadhouse in Crestview, the cast was amazing (thank you to Debby Geisen, Cynthia Bergquist, Joe Chase, Jim Downum and Chris Manson for your great performances, and to Jessika Kelsh for managing the Samuel's show for us), and overall I think I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  We may perform this one a time or two this summer at La Paz, so if you didn't get a chance to see it, the opportunity may come up again.  And keeping my fingers crossed I'll get to keep my role and get out there again!  Thanks to all our fans - we'd be nothing but a group of tired old actors rehearsing in our garage if it weren't for all of you!  :)  -- Paula Hilton

Divas Royal Payne (Paula Hilton), Marion Haste (Debby Geisen) and Augusta Wind (Cynthia Bergquist from KNOCK 'EM DEAD.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Act4 what?!

Wow, things are happening at Act4Mystery!  Wait... what? Act4 what?

Let me explain!

I started Act4MURDER in 2000 in California by writing a couple of scripts and putting them up on the world wide web to purchase for performance.  Things weren't all that bad in 2000 as far as the world went. But here we are in 2018 and you can't turn on the TV without seeing something horrible that someone has done to someone else.  I decided I do not want to add to that, and I was afraid the word "murder" in our name might lead some people to believe we are all for it, which isn't the case at all. We're all about laughter, having a good time, making fun of ourselves, and offering adult entertainment that includes great stories, music and fun.  So, when I started running out of merchandise at the end of 2017, it seemed like a good time to make a name change. And now we are Act4Mystery.  Same performance group, just a different name doing the same thing: Performing comedic murder mysteries for dinner theater.

I made another change too. Because some people would prefer NOT to share a table during dinner, we're now giving you that choice. When you make your reservation, let us know if you are OK with being seated with others, you aren't OK with that, or if it doesn't make any difference to you one way or the other you can tell us that too.  Hopefully this will get some of you in to see us who haven't done so before because of the seating issue.

AND in February, we're offering Valentine's Day candy and a single red rose along with our VIP packages.  We're still selling the old Act4Murder shirts and notebooks in the packages until we run out, so be sure to buy them up while you can. (They're bound to be a collector's item one of these days, right? LOL!)

Thanks to all our friends and fans, and hope to see you at a show in 2018!  -- Paula Hilton, Founder (seen below with Chris Manson, Act4Mystery NINJA)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Nate who?!

The show must go on! That's what they say anyway. But tell that to my actors who were scheduled to perform last night at La Paz for a private party. "Are we cancelling?" they asked. "I mean, we're cancelling, right?"  With all the hype going on all week it was tempting... but, I got in touch with the group and nope, no way were they cancelling, so neither were we!

This group was getting married the next day (today) come hell or high water. And I do mean high water. Because Nate came and went leaving quite a mess behind him. But the point is, they were getting married, and they wanted their show! So we gave them a show! Nate conveniently didn't drop any rain on us until sometime in the middle of the night, the actors and guests all made it to and from La Paz without a spec of rain on them, and the show went on without a hitch.

Thanks so much to my fantastic cast of SEX, LIES, AND MAIL-ORDER BRIDES!  You guys were real troupers and I appreciate your hard work and dedication.  Another reason I love Act4Murder!

-- Paula

Cynthia Bergquist and Chris Manson braving the storm at La Paz!

Monday, September 18, 2017

New Mysterious Grounds!

With our summer shows behind us, we're slipping into our Fall schedule with little fanfare. EXCEPT for the fact we are FINALLY doing a show out on 30A!!  We'll be at Redd's Fueling Station Saturday night, September 23, and it's our very first public show out that way!  Excited to bring our one-of-a-kind humor to those folks.

That said, our web guru forgot to add Redd's to our pulldown list for reservations.  I chastised her (ME, I'M the web guru) and fixed the code tonight, but like my old friend Julie Shaw always said, "DAAAAAANG!" What a way to mess up.  :(

At any rate, IF the show goes on, we'll be performing A MEDLEY TO DIE FOR.  Hoping anyone reading this who lives out in the 30A area will make reservations this week (it's working now, I promise!).  Details are on our website ( and our Facebook page (

Hope to see you there!  -- Paula