By Tom Reardon / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
(Pinal County, Arizona) The Murder Mystery Players of Casa Grande will perform at the Phoenix Fan Fusion event on May 27, 28, and 29.
The performance troupe, based in Casa Grande, was formed by Pamela Karpelenia in 2018. At the large-scale Fan Fusion (formerly known as Phoenix Comicon), the troupe will present an original play, Murder Mystery: the Super ReDIErment of Superman, each day of the event. The cast will also participate in a panel discussion on May 28.
Karpelenia, who also co-owns the group with her husband, Keith, wrote the play and will direct the ensemble cast for all three performances. When she found out about the opportunity to bring her players to Phoenix Fan Fusion, she reworked an existing work by adding a superhero theme.
“It’s an adaptation of my first original script which was called Early Retirement. I got the idea from my father-in-law who retired in 2018 after 47 years at APS (Arizona Public Service). In this show, Superman is retiring, and he is suddenly murdered at his own retirement party,” says Karpelenia.
The fully immersive experience will draw the audience into the action and give them a chance to guess who the murderer is between acts one and two. During the panel discussion on Saturday, event goers will get a chance to ask the cast, which is made up of Casa Grande and Phoenix residents, about the play.
Actor Sebastian Gardner, 16, is looking forward to the panel.
“I love to talk to people,” says Gardner who plays Robin in the play.
An actress, writer, director, and classically trained opera singer, Karpelenia moved to Casa Grande in 2005 and got involved in the Casa Grande theater scene right away. When her former troupe broke up, she decided to start the Murder Mystery Players of Casa Grande.
“My husband (Keith Karpelenia) is just absolutely amazing. When we started this, I said, ‘Honey, I want to start my own business’ and he said, ‘Let’s do it,’” says Karpelenia who shared that the Murder Mystery Players do three or four shows per year.
Initially, Super ReDIErment was supposed to premier at the 2020 Phoenix Fan Fusion, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a two-year delay in getting the players to Phoenix to take part in the event. According to Karpelenia, the event organizers have been wonderful to work with during the delay.
“They’re (Phoenix Fan Fusion staff) communication has been open all along. When the first cancellation happened, they were overly apologetic and said, ‘Don’t worry, we still want you. I got a call from the panel coordinators, and they said they would love to offer us a panel, as well. They’ve been very accommodating and very awesome,” says Karpelenia.
Phoenix Fan Fusion is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Described as a “multi-genre, pop culture convention,” the even offers fans of movies, television, comic books, and more an opportunity to meet their heroes, attend panel discussions, and attend a wide variety of presentations and performances.