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Daniel Stallings

Founder. Lead Writer. Director. Producer. Publicist. Actor.

Daniel Stallings is the mastermind and driving force behind Master Mystery Productions. He is its founder and owner along with is lead writer, artistic director, producer, and publicist. Under his direction lies most of the decision-making at the company including what shows are produced, where, and when. Over a long theatrical career of 17 years, Daniel has amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience in theatre in everything from acting, technical work, management, and beyond. He serves as Master Mystery Productions’ main educator and has been responsible for the launching of dozens of new artists in theatre.

Daniel’s journey to establish Master Mystery Productions began in 2013 when he wrote and directed Murder at the Red Fez for the Red Hat Ladies of Bakersfield. While not performed under the MMP banner, this show gave Daniel the idea to pursue interactive mysteries as a project, which led to the formation of Master Mystery Productions in Spring 2015 with the production of Goodbye Hollywood at My Enchanted Cottage and Tea Room. Murder at the Red Fez was then retroactively awarded the title of the first Master Mystery Production.

Stallings serving as the Emcee for his first musical, Exit Prima Donna.

Daniel has served as both the writer and director on the following productions: Murder at the Red Fez, Goodbye Hollywood, Goodbye Hollywood: At the Rainbow’s End, Hello Out There, Hero, Ex Luna, Wildflowers for the Funeral, The Last Garden Party, Pauper’s Grave, Murder at the Broken Heart Mine, Bury Me in Paris, Ode to Agatha, Anonymous, Femme Fatales, The Last Chapter, Exit Prima Donna, Famous Last Words, What Happens at Sundown, Mutiny on the Sea Witch, Eat Cake, Foul Play, Lenore Nevermore, Woman in the Walls, Regions Beyond, Mum’s the Word, Who’s Who?, Closer to Heaven, Unlucky Seven, and Tête-à-Tête.

He was the principal writer and game designer for October 2016’s Game Over. He served as the director and producer for C. R. Rowenson’s The Silent City, performed at Weird Weekend 2017. He was the executive producer for Monica Dwyer’s production of Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind. All of these productions featured Daniel as the lead publicity designer.

During the pandemic, Daniel switched gears to develop original digital productions for Master Mystery Productions, becoming the main writer, director, and video and audio editor for works such as #MurderoftheMonth, Regions Beyond, and Mum’s the Word. His proud and grateful cast for Regions Beyond, led by star Janis Kunz, created a special award for him for Best Director and Excellence in Sound Design.

Daniel Stallings in his first MMP role as Simon Pritchard, a role that received rave reviews from critics, in 2015’s Goodbye Hollywood.

As an actor, Daniel has appeared in numerous Master Mystery Productions to high critical acclaim. He originated the role of tortured screenwriter Simon Pritchard in both the tea shop production, Goodbye Hollywood, and the stage expansion, Goodbye Hollywood: At the Rainbow’s End in 2015. In 2016, he played the drunken General Major in the Victorian comedy, The Last Garden Party. During the 2017 season, he played the painter Edgar Giraud in Bury Me in Paris, the gold-digging Tobias Davenport in Ode to Agatha, and beleaguered cryptologist Dr. Alan Fleming in Anonymous. He played the Emcee in our first musical, Exit Prima Donna, at Amargosa Opera House in Spring 2018 and followed that by taking over the role of Elijah Samson in What Happens at Sundown in September 2018 after the original performer left the show. In the 2019 season, he played James “Fudge” Ferguson in Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind, written and directed by Monica Dwyer, who was the first outside director for Master Mystery Productions.

Daniel wins his first Diamond Mask Award for Closer to Heaven.

2022 became a landmark year for Daniel. In May, he performed as Gabriel Baker, the Hollywood-dreaming special effects makeup artist and nightclub bouncer with a dark, turbulent past, in our 1980’s mystery Closer to Heaven, an emotional, challenging role that his fellow castmates, crew, and audiences thought to be his best yet. As such, he was awarded with his first Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance for the role, a moment which brought him to tears onstage with a group hug from his castmates.

He returned to revive his role of James “Jimmy Fudge” Ferguson in Monica Dwyer’s expanded, Reader’s Theatre revival of her Bigfoot classic, Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind, for Ridge Writers’ Weird Weekend 2022. His quick wit, ability to improv, commitment to the character of a starry-eyed believer in Bigfoot with hidden anger and unresolved tensions in his past that he tries to overcome earned him his second Diamond Mask Award for his acting, a moment that surprised and delighted him onstage.

Daniel accepting the 2015 Jack London Award from the California Writer Club as the East Sierra Branch winner/

Due to his passionate support, the success of Goodbye Hollywood, and tireless fundraising efforts on behalf of Ridge Writers—the Eastern Sierra Branch of the statewide California Writers Club and a frequent MMP client—the club honored Daniel with the Jack London Award in 2015, the highest honor a single branch can award.

A scene from Act 2 of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution, directed for CLOTA by Daniel Stallings.

In 2022, he also fulfilled a lifelong dream to direct his first Agatha Christie play—Witness for the Prosecution, a dramatic and stylish hit production which he did for the Community Light Opera and Theatre Association (CLOTA) in the fall, where he also performed as John Mayhew. He masterminded the striking set design, worked as the technical director, and helped guide all the creative teams to produce their best work to date. Audiences thought it was one of the best productions they had ever seen, and it remains a legendary masterpiece in his directing career. CLOTA awarded him a Director’s Award for 2022 for the production.

In 2023, he won the CLOTA Robe twice, a rare achievement, for his commitment and backstage work as Technical Director, Publicist, and Stage Manager for Monica Dwyer’s March 2023 revival of Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind and his work as Stage Manager, Publicist, and Prop Master on Clue the Musical in Summer 2023.

In 2018, Daniel’s first mystery novel, Sunny Side Up, the first book in the Li Johnson Murder Mystery series, was published by Pace Press to great reviews. His second book, Cleanup on Aisle Six, came out in 2019 to even more prestigious acclaim from publications such as Kirkus Reviews and authors like Anne Perry. Daniel’s work and writing has been praised by critics, calling him a “master,” an “expert,” and even a “theatre legend.” His approach to deeply nuanced, complex, but entirely solvable mysteries has made him a favorite with audiences and actors alike.

Master Mystery Productions would be nothing without the inspiring spirit of Daniel and the creative vision he brings out in his performers, crew members, and outside artists. Always striving to bring out the best of the people who work with him, he has dedicated his career to creating the best shows with the best talent around while continuing to stretch and grow his company and the people in it. He encourages anyone who want to try out or help out to do so, and he believes strongly in empowering new, diverse voices in performing arts. And it is this atmosphere of encouragement, creative expression, professionalism, and sincere fun that brings people back time and time again to Master Mystery Productions.


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