From Our Editors
Like all good mysteries, Cynthia von Buhler's career as an artist, performer, playwright, and author began with a murder—her grandfather's. When speakeasy owner Frank Spano was shot by a neighborhood barber in 1935, the case was inexplicably dismissed, its true motivation a riddle that would haunt the family for decades. Taking a page from 1940s detectives, Cynthia recreated the crime scene in an elaborate dollhouse diorama using all the autopsy reports and municipal records available. That diorama garnered the attention of the New York Times and blossomed in 2010 into Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Bloody Beginning, an immersive theatrical staging wherein the actors and showgoers were the "dolls." Among those dolls in the still-running show have been Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Edgar Oliver, and others.
Originally intended as a one-night affair, Speakeasy Dollhouse extended its run multiple times to keep up with its perpetually sold-out status. Cynthia Von Buhler has followed up this success with more eclectic events, including Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth, an equally immersive production that posits a surreal, Shakespearean conspiracy behind Lincoln's assassination at the hands of John Wilkes Booth—fueled liberally with live jazz, burlesque, and moonshine.