Murder on Cue, an original play by Scott F. Mason premiered on the Chapel Street Players stage last Friday evening. Mason is also at the helm as director for this latest CSP production, which is the theater company’s 55th annual Reneé G. O’Leary FUNdraiser. The play is an homage to the wonderful whodunnit mysteries of the past as well as to the classic Parker Brothers board game, Clue, but also spoofs Newark, Community Theater, and CSP actors/board members with inside jokes and laughs galore. If films such as Murder by Death and Clue (the movie) tickled your funny bone, then you’ll rather enjoy Murder on Cue starring…well, everybody (except, unfortunately, a certain dame), but particularly: Heather McCarty, Walt Osborne, Courtney Lynahan, Zachary Jackson, Patricia Lake, Pete Matthews, Brittany Wilson, Reneé G. O’Leary, and Susan Boudreaux. Of these things, you may be certain, when Scott F. Mason (he prefers the use of the “F” when using his name) writes a play, zaniness, crazy plot twists, bawdy humor, a colorful cast of characters, and a good time are all guaranteed.
It’s rather difficult to review this play. Not because it’s bad. It isn’t at all. Murder on Cue is smartly written and wickedly funny with a stellar cast. It’s not because I’m at a loss for words either. I’m not. I’d love to tell you all about this play, but I can’t as it would spoil the fun for you. Oh sure, I could use bold type font and warn you of a SPOILER ALERT! But let’s be honest, most of you would keep reading and spoil the fun for yourselves then regret it. I’m going to save you from yourselves. I will NOT spoil it for you. The butler did it!
I’m kidding. The butler didn’t do it. There is no butler. There is a side-splittingly funny, deaf housekeeper (McCarty) who must read lips to know what is going on. Question: How does a deaf housekeeper know when the doorbell rings? Answer: You’ll have to watch the play to know. As in Clue, a group of strangers gather at a spooky mansion on a stormy night, responding to an invitation from their mysterious hosts, the Parkers. There’s Colonel Poupon…no, wait! Hmm. I am the very model of a modern…Major-General! Major-General Cleopold Poupon (Osborne) who is not only brilliantly funny, but also a talented song and dance man. Sister Pearl Ivory (Lynahan) is a nun who has taken a vow of silence and comically breaks that vow when the lunacy of the other guests undermines her effort and drives Sister Ivory over the edge. Plumber Butch Plump is a loud, obnoxious hyena of a man who cracks awful jokes. Unfortunately (especially for Poupon) jokes aren’t all Plumber Plump cracks. Lady Agatha Peasoup (Lake), Herr E. Grunschwanz (Matthews), Miss Car Lot (Wilson), the curvy, but dumb blonde, and Ms. Ing Boddy (O’Leary) round out the whacky group of guests and garner big laughs. Agatha (Boudreaux), an Alexa wannabe, causes a panic and generates guffaws when she secures the mansion.
The guests are gathered in the drawing room, awaiting their mysterious hosts when, suddenly, the lights fail and plunge the mansion into inky blackness. Gunshots ring out in the dark! When the lights come up, there’s a body and a room full of suspects—including you!
Think you know who the killer is? Can you figure it out ahead of the police? This is your chance to be an armchair (or rather theater seat) detective, so grab your fedora and your notebook and check out the usual suspects at Chapel Street Players, but hurry, Murder on Cue runs only until June 16th. Call the box office at (302) 368-2248 or visit http://www.chapelstreetplayers.org to reserve your tickets today.
Today is National Coming Out Day, an annual LGBTQ awareness day founded in the US in 1988. The foundational belief was that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance. Well, it’s fair to say that in 2017, there is still an over abundance of ignorance in this country. In fact, as a community, we have been forced back a few steps and I don’t believe it’s a mystery to anyone with political sense why that has happened, but the LGBTQ community has certainly not been silent and is not likely to be. For many years, I hid my sexuality, especially during my service in the Air Force for fear of being kicked out of the service. I was afraid of being persecuted. I was afraid my family would disown me and my friends would abandon me. I feared what society would think and how they would treat me. When I came out at age 49, it took a great deal of courage, but it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I wished I hadn’t waited so long. That was nearly four years ago and none of those things that I was concerned about has happened. Sure, there are friends and acquaintances that probably don’t approve and are under the misguided notion that my sexuality is a choice. No one that I’m aware of has gone to the trouble of unfriending me on Facebook, but I bet they’ve passive-aggressively elected not to receive Facebook post notifications from me or simply choose not to like/comment on my posts. I’ve noticed. Now ask me if I lose sleep over it. The important thing is that I have a loving family, a wonderful boyfriend, and a diverse group of amazing friends (old and new) in my life. I am truly blessed! Today, I’m out and proud, gay and fabulous (I better be, I spent enough time in the closet-haha). I feel that I can finally be my authentic self. Coming out is intensely personal and scary as hell. If you are struggling with whether or not to come out, only you can make that decision. You know your family and friends best and whether they will accept you or not. I know that some families have disowned their sons/daughters and/or kicked them out of their homes. Some families have tried to stage interventions, tried to “pray the gay away” or turn their sons and daughters over to some sadistic, so-called preacher or witch doctor for brainwashing. I’d like to believe those are the exceptions and not the rule. If you’re worried that midnight is fast approaching and you haven’t come out because you’re not quite ready, relax. You don’t need a special day to come out. It doesn’t matter if you come out on October 11th or on a Tuesday in the middle of January. If you come out and and no one disowns you or tries to pray your gay away, it’s a good day. If you come out and a few buddies or your great-uncle decide they’re done with you, well, that’s gonna suck, but there will be others waiting to welcome you into the LGBTQ community with open arms and hearts. And, yeah, it may suck to lose a friend or family member, but it’s their loss, not yours. Things will still be okay. So, be out, be proud and loud (not silent).
You probably already know that Pay-Per-Click advertising or PPC is a huge, potentially lucrative online marketing technique and a valuable tool to have in your ad campaign toolbox. By displaying your ads on desktops and mobile devices, you reach consumers anywhere they are. Consumers will see your ad and hopefully click on it. Sure, that click is going to cost you a little cash—PPC is an investment, after all, but like all good investments, if it’s made wisely, the payoff is a handsome return. In this case, conversion to a sale and a tidy profit for you. Party on!
PPC – Advantages and Disadvantages
Like other online marketing tools, PPC has many advantages:
• PPC is easy and generates traffic immediately. PPC ads bring traffic to your site as soon as your ad goes live which is great if you want fast results.
• PPC campaign results are easily measured. Most PPC networks utilize metrics to determine if ads generate conversions and profit.
• PPC puts you in the driver’s seat. In a PPC ad, you control how the ad looks, where it’s published, and the audience you’re trying to reach. You also control what keyword searches make your ad appear.
• PPC ads are easily revised. The ability to quickly revise your PPC ad allows you to meet ever changing market trends to remain competitive.
• PPC ads are cost effective. Placing ads for some keywords can cost as little as one thin dime. If that click leads to conversion, you make a profit.
One word sums up the disadvantages of PPC—mismanagement. Here are five ways, if mismanaged, your PPC ad campaign will not help you achieve your goals.
1. Not Developing a Strategy
When you invest money into a PPC ad campaign, you must develop a strategy and tactics (daily activities) to implement the strategy. You may have set your goals, but without a strategy, you may not achieve those goals. First, make sure your goals are clearly defined. Ask yourself key questions to help establish goals:
• What do you wish to accomplish?
• When do you want this to happen?
• Are these goals attainable? (Set realistic goals.)
• What benchmarks will you measure to gauge success?
Once you’ve set clear goals, devise the strategy that will help you achieve them and the tactics to implement the strategy.
2. Choosing Keywords Poorly
Some PPC advertisers sacrifice too much of their budget to broad match or highly competitive keywords that may not lead to conversions. You want to be at the top of the SERP and the broadest searched keywords may seem to be your best bet for getting there and attracting traffic to your site, but they will eat up your budget in a New York minute.
If your budget gets used up too quickly, you’ll end up with lost clicks and, more importantly, those sought-after conversions won’t happen. Instead, think like a customer and choose keywords relevant to your product or service. A long-tail keyword strategy would benefit a company with a modest budget in a highly competitive market. For example, the long-tail keyword “dress shirts with French cuffs” would be less costly to an online shirt company than the highly competitive “shirts”.
Selecting the right keywords is one way to create a successful PPC ad campaign. Important things to consider are:
• PPC Keyword Research. Use keyword research tools and analytical data to find keywords relevant to your products or services.
• Keyword Grouping/Organization. Highly effective PPC campaigns organize keywords into tightly related groupings.
• Negative Keywords. Setting negative keywords filters out unwanted clicks.
• Keyword Bid Optimization. Allows you to maximize your budget by focusing your spending on the keywords that best suit your needs.
The bottom line when creating PPC ads, is to choose the right keyword mix or it will affect your bottom line.
3. Not Tailoring Your Ad to Your Audience
Remember earlier when we talked about setting goals and determining strategy? Somewhere in that process is where you need to determine who you’re trying to reach. Who is your audience? If you’re selling skateboards, you don’t want to appeal to people of a certain age. Let’s face it, few octogenarians have a passion for longboards or perfecting their ollie.
The key to success here is to write emotional ads that appeal to your target audience so that they’ll click your ad and buy your product.
4. Focusing on the Wrong Performance Measurements (or Not Tracking Metrics)
Tracking the results of your marketing efforts, particularly PPC, is integral to the success of your ad campaign. You want to make sure that your campaign is meeting your goals. To that end, there are some things you can do to measure how well your ads perform:
• A/B Testing. This is a way of testing two slightly different versions of an ad campaign to see which one performs better. Even small changes can result in a significant increase in profits.
• Incorporate New Copywriting Techniques. Get creative with your ads. Steer clear of bland, boring ads. Make them come alive.
• Trust Indicators. Add testimonials. Consumers (especially Millennials) want to know what other peoples’ experiences with your product have been.
• Include Pricing. For me, if I see a product with no pricing, I immediately think the product must be expensive. Providing the cost may make consumers more willing to click.
• Modify Your CTAs. You want consumers to click, but how do you MAKE them click? Try adding a Call to Action. Compel them to click.
This list is not all inclusive, but these tips will help you measure your PPC ad’s performance and allow you to make changes that will help you reach your goals.
5. Sending Consumers to the Wrong Landing Page
Sending visitors to the wrong landing page may be a costly mistake. If you’ve attracted a consumer’s attention by displaying an ad with a beautiful silver necklace and they click the ad to potentially buy that necklace, but your ad directs them to your homepage, a totally different product, or worse, a broken link, you may have lost that customer (as well as any others drawn to the silver necklace in your ad.)
At best, your decision to direct the customer to your homepage will frustrate them, especially if they can’t find the necklace on your site. At worst, you have paid for a click that won’t result in a conversion and has likely alienated the consumer.
I know. You worked hard on your homepage. You want visitors to see all the wondrous products your site has to offer. What they want, the thing that drew them to your site, is the beautiful silver necklace, so give them the bloody necklace! It’s a win-win. They get the necklace, you get a conversion, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll continue to shop or visit your site again to see all of those wondrous products you have to offer. Make sure your visitors land in the right spot.
To maximize the potential of your PPC ad campaign and realize your goals, develop a strategy to achieve those goals and tactics to execute your strategy. Choose keywords wisely and incorporate a good keyword mix. Tailor your ad to your audience. Measure your ad’s performance by tracking the right metrics. Finally, send visitors to the correct landing page and optimize the page for maximum results.
Welcome to my website! I created AnthonyRenaldiOfficial.com to showcase my writing (excerpts from my novels, selected short stories, and poetry). The site will also include theater, restaurant, and hotel reviews and blog posts that document my writing experiences, including my journey to become a published author, as well as blogs on other subjects of interest to me. I won’t commit to any sort of schedule at this point as I must work a 9 to 5 in order to pay the bills, but I will attempt to update the blog regularly, perhaps weekly. I may also invite guest bloggers to contribute from time to time. This site is a work in progress. My original website was, due to unfortunate circumstances, irretrievably lost and must be recreated. I’m remarkably unremarkable when it comes to website building and design, but with help from my very talented friend, Peter, I have high hopes that this site will become a place that you’ll want to visit often. Enjoy!