Whodunnit? ‘Clue’ Brings Fun, Nostalgia To Academy Stage

By: Jennifer Sexton-Riley

Topics: Local Theater

     It was Miss Scarlet in the observatory with the candlestick! Or was it Professor Plum in the ballroom with the rope?
     Is there anyone who doesn’t love “Clue?”
     If you’re pining for a dose of comedy and mystery with a touch of delicious nostalgia thrown in for good measure, get ready to cheer. “Clue” takes the Academy of Performing Arts stage May 19 through 29, a fun whodunnit that will keep you guessing right up until the end. Whether you are familiar with “Clue” from the board game or from the 1985 film starring Tim Curry, chances are if you’re familiar with it, you probably love it.
     Academy of Performing Arts Artistic Director Judy Hamer has been wanting to put “Clue” on the playhouse schedule for a long time for one simple reason.
     “I love it! It’s funny and has nostalgic charm,” Hamer said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
     Director Karen Hepinstall feels the same way, and thinks the play’s combination of campy comedy and murder mystery is exactly what’s needed to kick off the summer 2022 season.
     “It's hilarious! I am a big fan of the classic movie starring Tim Curry that this play has been based on,” Hepinstall said. “My cast has taken the classic roles and turned them up. Audiences will recognize some of the dialogue from the movie, but the actors have certainly made their characters unique.”
     For those who are unfamiliar with the premise of “Clue,” the fun begins when a group of strangers gather at a spooky mansion, invited by an anonymous host. After encountering Wadsworth the butler and Yvette the maid, each guest is given a colorful pseudonym (Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard and the rest) and a weapon by another strange guest, Mr. Boddy. Without giving away any spoilers, suffice it to say that you can’t have a murder mystery without a murder, and you can’t have a murder without a body. But who has committed this murder most foul? And where? And with which weapon?
     “With classic melodrama, music and exaggerated dialogue, it is so campy it's silly,” Hepinstall said. “And quick paced! There is no intermission with this hour-long show, but you won't even notice it. Even if an audience member is unfamiliar with the play, hopefully they know the game.”
     Hepinstall praised her cast and crew for working so well together and for their impeccable timing. The cast is, she said, the perfect size: large enough to have a variety of different personalities, yet small enough to feel like a group of friends.
     “Rehearsals have been great! We laugh constantly,” Hepinstall said. “With so many moving parts – sets, people, sound cues, light cues – kudos go out to Jonathan Ryder in the light/sound booth and Esme Van Buskirk as head of crew. They have to be on their toes just as much as the cast does. Peter Eldgride has built the most amazing set. I am lucky to have all this talented support.”
     Hepinstall said she believes people are starting to feel “normal” about attending live theater post-pandemic, although she often hears them comment that they are happy to be able to enjoy live theater again.
     “It seems like everyone (audience and actors/directors/techies) appreciates it more than we did before,” Hepinstall said.
     May that appreciation continue!
     Clue features Sean Whalen as Wadsworth, Jasmine Netherwood as Yvette, Amanda Gordon as Miss Scarlet, Alison Hyder as Mrs. Peacock, Lizzie Smythe as Mrs. White, Fred Carpenter as Col. Mustard, Bragan Thomas as Prof. Plum, Ryan Van Buskirk as Mr. Green, Ann Carpenter as Cook, Peter Eldridge as Mr. Boddy and Mike Barry as Cop.

At the Academy of Performing Arts, Orleans
May 19 through 29
Information and reservations: academyplayhouse.org, 508-255-1963