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Sandy Journal

Alta’s murder-mystery fundraiser show steps back in time

Dec 01, 2023 09:16AM ● By Julie Slama

Alta High’s improv students will be among those performing in the school’s murder-mystery show and fundraiser in December. (Photo courtesy of Kassie Holt/Alta High)

“When the Clock Strikes Back” will take audiences back in time while never leaving their seat.

Alta High’s traditional murder-mystery show, which features appetizers and dessert, will be held at 5 p.m., and again at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 8 at the school, 11055 South 1100 East. Tickets to the show, which serves as the theater department’s fundraiser, are available online following the Alta athletics’ link on the school’s webpage,, or in-person at the school’s main office. 

The show was written by senior Kassie Holt, who spent about three hours per week for three months creating the script. 

“I was announced as improv captain last April and so that comes with the responsibility to write and direct the show,” she said. “So, I wrote over it over the summer when I knew I’d have time.”

The show’s storyline is set in the 1990s and focuses on two college students who accidentally discovered time travel while doing research on one of their fathers who the student never knew. By listening to music, they’re transported to the 1970s, then to the 1950s and to the Roaring 20s.

“Along the way, people go missing and murdered and have to figure out who did it and why,” Holt said.

The show features songs by Fleetwood Mac, Doris Day and Ruth Etting.

“The songs were from those specific eras. I love Fleetwood Mac, so I wanted music from that time period. I get to do costume design, which I love; I thought doing costumes, and hair and makeup for the different eras would be really fun,” Holt said.

At first, she thought writing the show seemed both overwhelming and exciting.

“I talked it over with my friend, Alex Liljenquist, who was the director last year, and asked her how she came up with her idea,” Holt said. “I went through different ideas, but I really liked the idea of a throwback murder mystery to the murder mystery decades that I saw and was in as an actor, to bring it full circle. I tweaked the years a little, but it’s still fun.”

She wrote the show, starting with a list of bullet points.

“I put down all of my ideas to include, then I took a couple of days and pieced it together until I had a basic storyline. I wrote my script from there,” Holt said. “Basically, I outlined the basic plot points in the scenes, but it’s up to the actors to decide their lines and how they interact with each other. Since it’s a murder mystery dinner, the audience is involved, so the actors need to be able to bounce off whatever the audience says and interact with each other. Normally, improv scenes are four minutes max and this show is an hour and a half long, so my script gives the actors a backbone to work off of and make it their own.”

In the show, there are 24 different characters — 11 main cast members, nine ensemble actors who also are the meal servers and four singers.

“During the scene breaks, the servers will be talking with the audience, so that will be fun and engaging for everyone,” she said.

Auditions were set for Nov. 21, with rehearsals slated to begin Nov. 27, after Alta High closes their production of “Mean Girls.” Holt is a part of that show as well.

Junior Ethan Reagan is the murder-mystery show’s assistant director.

Holt is eager for to see the show herself.

“I’m just super excited to see the cast in this show I created and how they perform it. It’s been an experience that I’ve never done before by having something that I created, cast and directed,” she said. “I don’t think it’ll be quite what I’m expecting; I think it will be better and I’m really excited about it.” λ