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A murder mystery with charitable motives

Since that first event at Pruyn House, Murder by Design has gone on to present other mysteries at other locations, including Whiskers, St. Paul's Center for the Homeless Women and local churches, historic mansions and libraries. The next murder mystery the company will be producing will be held at Our Brother's Keeper Foundation, an agency located in Albany that helps the local HIV-positive population.

But no matter what organization is hosting the murder mystery event, the cost remains the same " nothing.

The time " roughly a month to write the murder mystery story, plus preparation time for the mystery " costumes, actors, mileage and props are all supplied by the O'Connors.

"I think it's important to pay back when you've been fortunate," said O'Connor.

O'Connor said Murder by Design does pay the actors for working the mysteries and does pay for some of the costumes and props, an average of $1,000 per murder mystery, but that he and his wife have been blessed with good jobs and have made good investments, and they are happy to be able to help others.

Deanna Stickles-Bach, 30, of Colonie, said she has been acting with Murder by Design for the past four years, and she does it because it is a lot of fun.

"So much of it is improvised, where we pretty much get a character and are just able to go with it," she said. "The actors have as much fun as the people do. It really is an actor's dream."

Aside from the fun, Stickles-Bach said the fact that she is helping a charitable organization while acting is a bonus.

"That really makes it all the better. Knowing that [we] are providing a service," she said.

In her other life, Stickles-Bach runs Drama Kids International, a drama school for children throughout the Capital District ages 3 to 18.

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