“Clue: the Musical,” the latest addition to the pantheon of peculiar convention-crossing adaptations, is currently showing at Cyrano’s Off-Center Playhouse through August 27. The production proves the classic board game from Parker Brothers can intrigue and delight people of all ages in more than one format.
Plenty of audience participation, as well as a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek cheese, help keep the play engaging and entertaining.
“Clue” is a truly unique and creative show. The set-up is the same as the board game’s, with Mr. Boddy mysteriously murdered and suspects everywhere. A weapon, room and culprit are chosen randomly, and players attempt to decipher the answer. In the play, audience members pick the cards that will decide who, what, and where, then try to figure out the mystery. Mr Boddy (Mark Stonburner) gives the audience clues to be marked on sheets waiting on their chairs. With 216 different combinations of cards (and combinations of clues!), a different ending is likely at each performance.
The cast has clear and definite chemistry. They revel in their over-the-top characters and look like they’re having great fun. In the end the joy the actors exude sells the show, bubbling over into the audience and taking them along. Stonburner clearly enjoys playing Mr. Boddy, the grinning, rhyming narrator who masterminds his own murder. Rodney Lamb plays the bumbling Colonel Mustard with both a childish boisterousness and grave dignity that is quite endearing. Dennis Cleary’s Professor Plum is delightfully erudite, making for a great scene where Plum attempts to use Thoreau to seduce the brittle, spunky, Mother Goose spewing Detective, portrayed with a high-strung jitteriness by Rachel Gregory.
Charlotte Kopp as the extremely cockney Mrs. White is also memorable. Her solo, “Life is a Bowl of Pits,” is the best singing of the evening. The cast is rounded out by the sultry femme fatal Miss Scarlet (Lily Blouin), the slimy Mr. Green (Glen Wall), who displays a used car salesman mustache as he slinks about in an emerald zoot suit, and the amorous, oft-widowed Miss Peacock (Kary L. Bashford).
Lainie Dreas does a great job directing. The characters constantly move, and Dreas’ blocking scheme keeps it exciting and leads to some great visual gags. A scene with disembodied hands sticking out of disembodied doors striking ineptly at Boddy is wonderfully orchestrated, and bears special note.
Also of note are the costumes _” gaudy pastels for each character referred to as “by Crayola” in the script.
The low point in the show is the singing. The cast seems primarily comprised of actors, not singers, but their energy and effort makes most of the numbers bearable.
However, the poor singing might be enough to keep away those more interested in the musical part of musical theater.
Ultimately “Clue” is a novelty. But the chemistry of the cast and the sheer curiosity of the play warrants buying a ticket. If you enjoy corny fun while solving a mystery, it might be worth seeing more than once. The end is sure to be different each time.
“Clue: The Musical!” plays at Cyrano’s Off Center Playhouse (413 D Street), Thursday _” Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. through August 27.