Questions Asked about Mystery Dinner Presentations


For a FREE PREVIEW of any of the scripts -
Complete the short Preview Form with your
name, organization's name, and email. Select
the name of the script(s) you would like to
preview.  Then you will be emailed 3 PDF
documents:  A portion of the script for you
to understand the flow, a list of characters to
determine if you have the right people to fill
the cast, and a suggested schedule.
 
Nancy Walke Bond  
READ ABOUT PLAYWRIGHT
NANCY  WALKE BOND

TO ORDER:
Complete the short Order Form. Choose to
pay by credit card OR Request an email
invoice to pay by check. When payment is
received the script will be emailed to you
as a PDF document.  Plus, numerous graphics
and documents will be emailed to help with presenting the best event possible! Because scripts can be previewed - all orders are non-refundable.

 
  Mystery Dinner Answers What are the benefits of putting in the hard work to present a mystery dinner theater?

1 - Most of the work is actually fun to do.  People are able to share wonderful talents in new and creative ways.  Sometimes individuals discover gifts they never knew they had.  Acting ability is unearthed, secret chefs emerge,  savvy decorators appear, skillful prop makers come forth,  . . .

2 -  The cast grows very close to one another and creates a unique and special bond.

3 - All the guests will have a fabulous time and will talk about it for weeks and weeks!

4 - It’s a wonderful way to introduce your church to people in the community that might be hesitant to come on a Sunday morning. 

5 - It provides clean, fun entertainment and laughter to a community that needs a break from hard times.

6 - Numerous groups proclaim these mystery dinner theaters as their best fundraisers ever!

  Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations What makes these scripts from Theater 4 Church the right choice for us?

Each script is written with both the cast and the audience in mind.  The audience will observe a strong plot line with unexpected twists and turns experienced by believable characters.  These guests will be rewarded for their ingenious skills of game play and deductive reasoning.  And of course, the audience will enjoy the bonus table games and conspiring with others.

The cast will have characters to portray with depth and with whom they can resonate.  Producers find budget friendly sets and costumes.  Decorators will enjoy the creative themes.  Directors will discover scripts where words do not need to be edited.  Even the integrity of temptation is taken into consideration by not including kissing or other awkward scenes for non-married couples to portray.

Through a great deal of personal experience and also from my listening to others’ comments, these scripts successfully provide a balance between character action and clue-giving dialogue, audience involvement and length of the evening, parts for brand new actors and seasoned professionals, exciting themes and budget limitations, . . .

Another great benefit is that there will be no additional items for you to be pressured to purchase!  Each script includes everything you’ll need to have the most spectacular event possible.

  Mystery Dinner Answers How long are the mystery dinner theater drama scripts - just the acting part?

Each of the full length scripts is about an hour in total: 

First, an opening scene will last about 10-15 minutes.  Following dinner, another 40-45 minutes for the main acting part where the crime occurs.  Then, after the audience returns their ballots guessing who is guilty, a final scene is presented that lasts about 10 minutes.

Naturally, these times are estimates.  Each church or organization will have different timing depending on the amount of audience involvement, stage size, nervous or experienced actors, setting up scenes, etc.

   Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations How long does a typical evening last?

Each event can last up to 3 hours, but if kept to an extremely tight schedule - can be accomplished in 2 hours.

The presentation of the drama is one hour.  The additional time beyond the drama includes fun time finding seats, mingling between audience and characters, playing games, eating a delicious meal, guessing who's guilty, ...

Shorter events can be accomplished by having only dessert and/or appetizers.

   Mystery Dinner Answers Are any of these scripts comedies?

YES!  They are all extremely fun and waiting for your unique cast to create a spectacular event!

  Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations Which script is the easiest?

The least difficult full length script is Suspect Hollywood by Nancy Bond.  Because most of the cast is imitating famous characters, they can quickly get into the roles.  Then, much of the time they are holding a script to audition which creates fewer lines to memorize.  The second and folloing presentations are always easier because of experience.

If your event is close at hand, then the easiest option is to do a mini-mystery.  Currently the cast of the three mini mysteries are geared toward youth, young twenties, or youth and their parents.

Read more at Mini-Mysteries.

   Mystery Dinner Answers What kind of message do the mystery dramas have?

As a Christian, my beliefs will naturally come out in each script - general ideas like importance of family, love, forgiveness, trust, etc.  However, there is no pushy type of moral in the scripts.  Since the dramas are already thematic mysteries, the plot is involved in making people look guilty and giving clues to the audience to solve the crime.

Then, if you choose, you are given options such as “The Greatest Mystery in History” which will segue the mystery theme with the mystery of why any person would choose to reject Jesus Christ.

And actually, I believe one of the strongest messages of the evening will be how people treat others who attend the event – especially strangers!

      By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  John 13:35 (NAS)

      Read More:  The Message

  Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations Are these mystery plays suitable for organizations that are NOT religious like schools or community groups?

Absolutely Yes!

Hundreds of groups have thoroughly enjoyed using these mystery dinners because they are clean-cut and family friendly.  There is no need to edit out cuss words, foul language, embarrassing situations, awkward inuendos, ...

 Mystery Dinner Answers What if our church is concerned about presenting a mystery script that contains a murder?

First, there are several scripts to choose from that are crimes of theft or sabotage and not murder:
Sabotage on “The Ultimate Server”; The Conundrum on the Crackerjack Cruise; New York Dreams; Who's Cookin'?; The Hawaiian Heist; Missing Greenbacks; and The Case of the Sinister Senior Sabotage

And in Suspect Hollywood, Murder at Mikes, and Wrangle at Red Mountain Ranch the murders are/can be attempted murder.  (Though in Wrangle at Red Mountain Ranch there are gunfights acted out in the Old West Scene.)

Second, if you do choose to present a “murder mystery” you can be sure that nothing even close to being gruesome will ever be shown.  And the murders are not glorified.  Rather, they are shown as terrible choices with consequences.  Sometimes, we need to be reminded that when life gets difficult, we are all tempted to react in the wrong way.  Yet, God is there to see us through.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  I Corinthians 10:13 (NAS)

  Read More:  Why a Murder in the Church?

  Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations How is dinner integrated into presenting the play?

Feed your hungry guests appetizers as they arrive. 

Then at your stated start time, your host encourages everyone to be seated and turn their chairs to face the stage.  The first scene is presented.  This scene will introduce all the characters and get the audience speculating about what’s going to happen next, who they like and don’t like, what crime they think will occur, who they think seems suspicious . . .

As dinner is now served, the cast mingles with the guests while they eat and discuss their thoughts. 

After dinner, the main portion of the script is presented and a crime occurs.

Dessert is served as each audience member makes a final decision about who is guilty and turns in the ballots.  The final scene is presented which will identify the guilty person.  The cast takes a bow and the host returns to announce the evening’s winners.

 Mystery Dinner Answers What if we have never done anything like this before?

You can do this! 
 
1 - Allow yourself time to plan and practice.
 
2 - Pick a script that is not too difficult. 
 
3 - Involve several team members that have specific areas they are in charge of. 

 
Read more: Guidelines for Hosting a Mystery

  Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations What is the most common food to serve?

Definitely spaghetti!  It must be the least expensive and easiest to feed to a crowd because it is frequently found on the dinner theater menu.

 There are some highly delicious options out there including lasagna, chicken, hamburgers, turkey, meatloaf, …

 The most common side dish:  Green beans

 I recommend considering the theme of the script when planning the menu.

 Many churches save money on dessert by having volunteers bring the sweet treats.

 Mystery Dinner Answers What is a typical price for each ticket?

It depends on your target audience.  Probably the price I see the most often is $15 per ticket.  The highest cost I’ve seen is $30 which was for a fundraiser.  (For this price the food, set, and the acting must be amazing!)

 I have also seen tickets as low $5 where the church served hot dogs and chips like at the movies.  (The script was “movie” based “Suspect Hollywood.”)

 With today’s economy there are many, many people out there that will struggle with prices higher than $9 or $10 – which is actually a great deal because going to a movie costs that much!

 You can have a “household” limit – this wording helps define who makes up a family as those that live together.

 Naturally, charging children a smaller amount helps families a lot.

 And if it’s a fundraiser, you could have “Gold Circle” seating which is up front and costs more than other tables.

Another fundraiser idea is to sell clues to audience members for some fabulous donated prize to be given to the “Sleuth of the Night”.

  Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations How many people normally attend?

 If you do advance advertising, you can sell as many tickets as you have chairs available!  Start advertising at least 8 weeks out to give people a chance to put it on their calendars.

 The most common number of attendees per night that I see is about 100 – 150. 

  Mystery Dinner Answers How do we get a free preview?

Select the “PREVIEW” link at the top of the page.  Complete the short Preview Form with your name, church name, and email. Check the name of the script you would like to preview.  Then, you will be emailed three PDF documents:  A portion of the script for you to understand the flow, a list of characters to determine if you have the right people to fill the cast, and a suggested schedule.

When you have made your decision about ordering, the preview material is to be deleted from your computer.

  Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations How many scripts can we preview?

 You may preview up to 3 scripts.  Trying to read through any more than that will make the decision too confusing.

  Mystery Dinner Answers What does the cost of $125 include?

First of all, you will be emailed a fun, quality script.  Many of the scripts have more than one option for endings.

Plus, there are numerous extra documents for you to use in creating the best event possible.  Get it all started with set up suggestions and schedules.  Advertising helps include various size logos, handouts, and letter size posters.  There is help with decorating such as table numbers and signs.  And lots of helpful documents to give the audience including ballots, playbills, itineraries, table games, crime solution ballots, character descriptions, and the Greatest Mystery in History handout which shares the plan of salvation in a creative way.

  Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations Once we order, how long does it take to receive the script by email?

 You will receive the script within 24 hours of M-F business days.  If ordered on Saturday, then there is a chance you will receive the script that day or Monday at the latest.  Sundays are my day of rest and no business is done on that day.

  Mystery Dinner Answers How many copies of the script are we allowed print?

You may print as many scripts as needed for actors, directors, lighting, sound, stage hands, etc.

Copies should be numbered and catalogued as to who gets which one.  After the production is complete, ALL copies are to be collected and stored together in a single file (to use again one day with royalties) or destroyed together.

 Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations How many performances are we permitted to have?

 You may have up to 3 performances at the SAME VENUE within one year of your first presentation.  Additional performances will require a royalty payment of $35 per performance.

 Mystery Dinner Answers What kind of changes can we make?

NO deletions, alterations, or changes of any kind are allowed unless directly authorized by the author.  The title of the play shall not be changed.  Character names shall not be changed.

 Heart, soul, research, and HARD WORK is crafted into these scripts!  If an organization makes naïve, unapproved changes it can destroy diligent efforts to create flow, consistency, personalities, clues, foreshadowing, and/or believability.  

 I DO realize that sometimes there are circumstances when changes are needed for specific situations.  I am very open to this need.  To request permission, please email Nancy Bond PRIOR to making or practicing the desired changes to ask for permission.

 Now, I DO want you to add fun interjections and short ad lib lines that continue in the spirit of the drama and keep it flowing in a natural way.  And staging may be done to best fit the needs of your organization.

  Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations Is it legal to videotape the production?

 No.  You must get permission to record the production.  Please email me and let me know exactly who and what the video would be used for.  I will reply by email to let you know if that will or will not be acceptable.   

I understand that most churches simply want to have a video for their own enjoyment and fun memories.

But if you video your production and put it on You Tube, that’s like going to a movie and recording it.  Other people see the ending!  And there are some churches that will not be able to see beyond what has already been done and make their production better and/or unique.

  Mystery Dinner Answers What happens if I order and I do not receive all of the documents?

Please check spam or junk folders because with the many attachments, emails can look like spam to filtering programs.

After opening the emails take a moment to scroll down through all the attachments.  There will be so many helpful documents that you will need to SCROLL!  Also, read the email since it will provide vital information.  SAVE the documents to a file folder on your computer so that you can look through them more easily.

  If you still feel that something is missing, then please email right away.  I will be happy to help you find the resolution.  Or call 614-266-2638.

  Questions Answered about Mystery Dinner Theater Presentations What is the history of Stuff 4 Church?

Fulfilling a dream is not necessarily a quick process.  But through God’s leading and support from my husband, family, friends, and other Christians I’m getting closer now.

There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NAS)

The beginning of Stuff 4 Church goes back to May of 2000 when I purchased my first domain name.  (Ouch – domain names were $125!) Finally by February 2002, I had created a website to sell Children’s Church lessons and short drama sketches.  I printed my own business cards to pass out at a Creative Ministries Festival near Dayton, OH.  Unfortunately, I was so busy helping with the conference that I only gave away a handful of those original cards.

So, a year later, I was even more motivated.  I had to create a new website because someone else bought the .com name and I switched to www.stuff4church.org.  That year I had been contracted to lead the 2003 Creative Ministries Conference, which was close by in Grove City, OH.  At the conference, I talked to a friend, Rick Shoemaker, who served as a pastor.  He was very excited for me to sell his three mystery dinner theater scripts on my website along with my dramas, lessons, lists of free church goods.

In July 2003, I sold several quarters of Children’s Church Lessons and also the first mystery dinner theater.  I really enjoyed electronically meeting people across the country who were serving in various denominations.  Several of those people were especially encouraging to me.

 Since my goal was to begin my own business without going into debt, I continued to work a part time job as an administrative assistant at Barney Corporation in Columbus, OH.  While at this job, I learned a great deal including web design, database encoding, and graphic editing in Adobe Photoshop.  These experiences enabled me to achieve many of my goals at Stuff 4 Church.

Then, in November 2003, I was let go because the company was downsizing.  Though the news was hard to hear, I know it was God’s perfect timing.  As I searched for my next part time job, I was able to use the extra time to write.  I wrote my very first mystery dinner theater script, The Case of the Sinister Senior Sabotage.  This script was written for youth because there are so many youth groups that thoroughly enjoy acting.  Also, several churches had been requesting a script that did not involve a murder.  The first sale was very soon after posting the script in March of 2004.

Later in August of 2004, I was able to find a new job teaching math as an adjunct at Columbus State Community College.  The job was ideal for me and I never would have found it if I had not lost my other job.

In the meantime, I began working on my second mystery dinner theater script, Suspect Hollywood.  In January 2005, I posted the script on the website and it immediately began selling.  My husband suggested that we present Suspect Hollywood at our church.  At first I was hesitant.  Our church averaged about 125 people each week and we met in a high school.  And yet I knew that with God, all things are possible.  We practiced at my house and in a community room at the public library.  A church nearby loaned us their gym for the performance.  The April event was fantastic!  It was amazing how all the cast members and the people in the audience had such a great time.

Having the opportunity to present this script was invaluable.  It helped me tweak the drama in all the right places.  Plus, I realized the types of documents that organizations need in order to stage a successful event.

My church also presented the next group of dinner theaters that I wrote from 2006 - 2010:  The Conundrum on the Crackerjack Cruise, Murder at Mike’s, Sabotage on ‘The Ultimate Server’, and Wrangle at Red Mountain Ranch.  Each year, both the cast and the audience had a fabulous time.  I continued to learn how to write better scripts that are ideal for this atmosphere.

During this time I began teaching at the Creative Ministries Conferences in KY.  Through this awesome experience, I was inspired to invent the “mini mystery”.  These scripts made the workshops so much fun and have provided excellent “starter” material for dinner theater newbies.

Because my husband and I had moved to Ohio as church planters in 1997, my writing time has often been limited.  Especially during the summer of 2007 when over 200 volunteers emerged in Galloway with a group called “The Church Builders of Texas” to build our first church building.  Yet, the time was a huge blessing in so many ways and I knew a time would come when I could focus more on writing and this business.

Then in August of 2010, through God’s guidance, my husband and I moved back to our hometown in Atlanta to be near our families.  I decided it was time to concentrate my efforts on this business.  For quite a while I had wanted to create a new website that focused on the theater scripts that I write.  After several months of working and tweaking, Theater 4 Church became a reality in August 2011.

I wanted to share this brief history to encourage other Christians to:

  1) Continue seeking the dreams you know God has placed in your heart.
 
Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4 (NAS)

  2) Encourage others in their pursuits because you may be the spark they need to continue their journey.
 
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are also doing.  I Thessalonians 5:11 (NAS)

3) Trust God and his perfect timing.
He has made everything appropriate in its time.  He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.  I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor – it is the gift of God.  I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 – 14 (NAS)