Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern alum starts Chicago’s first murder mystery tour

Guests+at+the+Chicago+Murder+Mystery+Tour+pose+for+mugshots.
Guests at the Chicago Murder Mystery Tour pose for mugshots.

Created by Northwestern alum André Baronov-Torres (Communication ’20), the Chicago Murder Mystery Tour turns guests into detectives and suspects as they journey through Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.

When guests arrive, the first order of business is a mugshot. Then, they solve a homicide case by reading affidavits and interrogating one another — all while learning about Chicago’s landmarks and most famous criminals, like Al Capone.

“If you successfully solve the case, you get a little prize at the end,” Baronov-Torres said. “But the most important part is that you’re bonding with your family and your new friends.”

Chicago has a range of crime-related tours, including the popular Gangsters and Ghosts Tour and the Mobs and Haunts Walking Tour. However, the Murder Mystery Tour is unique in its gameplay aspect, which Baronov-Torres describes as a “mix of an escape room with a walking tour.” 

That sense of play and storytelling contributed to Chicago resident Amelia Bond’s interest in the tour.

“It was a really creative process,” Bond said. “When we got there, André chose who would be playing what role, and every location we went to somebody would act like the person (they were assigned).”

Bond said she found the improvisatory nature of the tour engaging and entertaining.

Baronov-Torres came up with the idea for the Murder Mystery Tour while he was living in a windowless basement in Chinatown. 

“I knew I had to leave when I was the only one of my seven roommates who hadn’t been robbed outside of our home,” he said. “That was rock bottom.” 

Inspired by his love for walking tours and classes he took at The Second City, a comedy theater and improvisation school in Chicago, he decided to create a game-based tour of the city.

“When it clicked in me that I had something special to bring to tours, I spent two months just in my room, working on a script and developing a game,” Baronov-Torres said. 

The playfulness of the tour comes in part from Baronov-Torres’ time at NU, where he majored in Radio, Television and Film, and was a part of No Fun Mud Piranhas, a student improv group, and Flipside, NU’s satirical newspaper.

“What all the students hopefully take away from the improvisation classes is the ability to no longer be in a place of judgment, but a place where you feel like you’re in play,” said Communication Prof. Dee Ryan, who teaches improv. “You are freer to make choices that are less judgmental and more creative.”

The Murder Mystery Tour is one of two experiences provided by Magnifico Tours, which Baronov-Torres founded in June. The other is The Private Chicago Magnifico Tour, a Spanish-language tour that covers Chicago’s architecture, history and food from a Latine perspective.

Chicago Magnifico addresses an important gap Baronov-Torres sees in Chicago’s tourism industry. Though Spanish is the second most spoken language in Chicago, Spanish-language tours of the city are few and far between.

“I’m Latino myself, and I just really saw there was a need for more diversity (and) a little more accessibility within tourism,” Baronov-Torres said. “Tourism is a space that’s often catered to more privileged travelers, and I wanted to make something that my mom could enjoy.”

Baronov-Torres’s commitment to accessibility is a central element to his future plans for Magnifico Tours. 

In the coming years, he plans to incorporate artificial intelligence, more languages and different packages for all kinds of participants to provide more accessible tourism. 

“Betting on myself is really important to me,” Baronov-Torres said. “I hope that this can inspire some other folks at Northwestern to do similar things.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @isabelsu_

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