Specialising in pop-up musical performances and theatre shows, Inverurie-based Right Here Productions found a different way to entertain north-east audiences during lockdown.
With social-distancing measures in place and most events cancelled due to the pandemic, Alison Sandison, director at Right Here Productions, completely changed how her business operated.
She set up the entertainment company more than a decade ago and, at the time, Alison was writing and staging musicals. However, Right Here Productions is best known for organising thrilling murder mysteries – which is something Alison was keen to continue doing during lockdown.
She said: “After our first Shh…The Musical, we very much became a filming company because I did English and film studies at Aberdeen University.
“So we filmed shows and created a lot of promo videos, but then in 2015, we were approached by a hotel asking us to do murder mysteries and from there it just exploded.
Bursting into song at weddings
“In addition to that, we were also busy doing ‘Singing Waiters’ which means we turn up to events – usually weddings – pose as waiters and then we will suddenly start singing and deliver a surprise 20-minute set of songs loved by the bride and groom.
“We were incredibly busy with events when they were allowed.”
But with everyone being stuck at home, Alison thought of a way to bring murder mysteries and other family-friendly online events to people’s homes.
She said: “When we got to March 2020, all our work just disappeared.
“As the Covid-19 situation went on, we realised we didn’t know when it was going to end and when events will be back.
“I had two options – I could put the business into hibernation or I could try to diversify and adapt to see if there was a way of carrying on doing what we were doing on a smaller scale and help alleviate boredom for people staying indoors.”
Online murder mystery and singagram launch
Since the company was “desperate” to work on something creative, they quickly launched their online murder mysteries, which proved popular with local entertainment lovers.
Producing 12 online games in 12 weeks, after purchasing each game, players are sent a PDF full of evidence and links to further clues. Once they have worked through the booklet, they will unlock the next two rounds before guessing who committed the crime.
Alison added: “We also offer personalised singagrams (video birthday wishes containing singing).
“This started when one of our actors turned 30 last year and obviously, he didn’t get the chance to properly celebrate, so we decided we would choose one of his favourite songs and change the lyrics to be about him.”
While this was supposed to be a fun one-off birthday video, everyone involved in the making of the video encouraged Alison to offer this as a service through Right Here Productions.
“So we did just that and so far we’ve created at least 50 singagrams,” said Alison.
Creating play-at-home murder mystery game when restrictions eased
Following the easing of restrictions, Alison decided to launch the Deep Dish Double Cross game which friends and family members could play at home.
She said: “Now that we’re able to see other people, we wanted to create something that could go along with that.
“It was quite an expense to create a game that could be posted out, so we ran a crowdfunder and we were very lucky to receive a lot of support from people.
“It’s a play-at-home game and everything you need to play the game is in a box which will be mailed to you. Each of the four players takes on a character and needs to ask other people questions to find out ‘whodunnit’.”
Important to support other local businesses
Keen to support other local businesses that were hit hard by the pandemic, Right Here Productions also posts out north-east-made Cocoa Ooze chocolates with every ‘Deep Dish Double Cross’ game.
Alison said: “I thought it was really important to work with people who were in a similar position to us. It’s also a nice extra thing for our customers to receive.
“Later on, we also want to offer optional add-ons people can purchase such as a catering service, pamper sets, decorations and more created by local businesses.”
In-person murder mysteries set to return
Alison is also delighted Right Here Productions will return to Peterhead Prison Museum next year to stage in-person murder mysteries.
She said: “I think everyone needs it now – to get back to some kind of normality.
“We’ve been working with them since 2018 and now we have a murder mystery booked for February and August 2022.”
In the meantime, the entertainment company is looking forward to staging a murder mystery at Aden Country Park for the first time on Saturday July 31. The Midsummer Murder event starts at 7pm and tickets can be purchased here.