Monday, October 30, 2000

Sleuths descend on Sharonville

Murder mystery played out at Heritage Village Museum

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        SHARONVILLE — Heritage Village Museum is preparing to show its dark side.

        On the surface, it's a quaint village surrounded by quiet woods. But after sunset tonight and Tuesday, it's a place where evil lurks and a murder is committed.

        Welcome to the Village Witch Project, where Blair Witch meets Survivor. During the haunted murder mystery party, brave souls will probe village secrets to solve the puzzle and find the victim.

        The event, presented by the outdoor history museum, is produced by Party Central, a company that specializes in interactive drama.

        “The key word is "interactive,'” said Tawnyn Ebner, Party Central owner. “Everyone who comes will have a role, but they won't know what it is until they get there. That doesn't mean you have to act or say a line.”

        Participants will gather in front of Hayner House, at one end of the village, to hear instructions and rules and to learn the story line. They will then search five of the village buildings and the woods beyond for clues. The first three individuals or groups to solve the mystery and identify the victim win prizes. But there are obstacles.

        “There will be over 3,000 clues, but only a small number are valid. The rest are just cryptic messages from the spirits,” Ms. Ebner said. “And among the people around you will be embodied spirits, our "plants,' who can take you out of the game.”

        Said Heritage Village Executive Director Jon Sharf: “We encourage people to come in pairs or groups so they can work together. This will be a fairly aerobic effort, because you'll have to stoop, bend or reach to get the clues.”

        This event is part of the museum's effort to program for young adults. The village already is the site of the Blue Jordan Music Festival in September, a showcase for folk-rock performers from the Cincinnati area. Its success motivated museum officials to look for additional ways to lure the 18- to 40-year-old crowd.

        “Halloween is so popular in this area. Our Haunted Village, now in its second year, is geared for 3- to 11-year-olds. We wanted to do something for adults,” Mr. Sharf said.

        Village Witch competitors are advised to show up on time so they won't miss essential information, and to bring flashlights; $500 in prizes will be awarded each night to successful sleuths. On Tuesday, participants are invited to wear costumes, and cash prizes will be given for the three best outfits.



        What: Village Witch Project.

        • When: 7-9 p.m. today and Tuesday.

        • Where: Heritage Village Museum, Sharon Woods.

        • Admission: $20; numbers are limited to 250 each night; call for reservations.

        • Information: 956-7418 or 563-9484.


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