Who? Where? With What? Hilarity is Afoot: “Clue”

The cast. Photo by Nile Scott Studios.

Presented by the Greater Boston Stage Company
Written by Sandy Rustin
Adapted from the Paramount Pictures film written by Jonathan Lynn and the board game from Hasbro, Inc
Additional materials by Hunter Foster and Eric Price
Directed by Weylin Symes
Fight choreography by Alexander Platt
Movement Consultant: Ceit Zweil 
EDI consultant: Kira Troilo

June 2 – 25, 2023
395 Main Street
Stoneham, MA 02180

Critique by Kitty Drexel

STONEHAM, Mass. — Clue is a game, a film, a musical, a play, and soon a movie remake by Ryan Reynolds. The stage play is performing now at the Greater Boston Stage Company. If you enjoy a farcical whodunit and a murder mystery spoof with gags aplenty, get your butts to Stoneham! 

Now a disclaimer: GBSC’s Clue may not be for you if you can’t imagine a stage performance being better than the movie. It’s not for you if you’re ready to pick apart what is and isn’t the same as the classic. 

Clue is for you if you can make room for new interpretations of old favorites. Clue is meant to be fun; it’s a funny show, movie, and musical. This production is for anyone willing to appreciate slapstick humor, silly puns, and great physical comedy despite and because of its renowned story. 

On a dark and stormy night, six guests gather at a mansion for a dinner party at the behest of a mysterious stranger, Mr. Body (Bryan Miner). Guests Miss Scarlett (Jennifer Ellis), Professor Plum (Mark Linehan), Mrs. White (Sara Coombs), Mr. Green (Stewart Evan Smith), Mrs. Peacock (Maureen Keiller), and Colonel Mustard (Bill Mootos) are corralled by the butler Wadsworth (Paul Melendy) and the maid, Yvette (Genevieve Lefevre) to the dining room. 

There’s a special treat on the menu: MURDER! Wadsworth, Yvette, and the guests race to find the killer as fresh bodies turn up. Will they get out in time to discover who dun it? Katie Pickett appeared as the Cook and other roles. 

It’s hard to choose my favorite part of Clue. Everything was so well done. From jazzy costumes to clever set to snazzy interstitial dancing to phenomenal acting: it’s all top-notch work, and it all works together beautifully. Seamlessly.   

Paul Melendy with his Olympic eyebrows opened the production with a curtain speech and an accent borrowed directly from his majesty’s poshest London. If he sounded like Tim Curry, so be it. 

Melendy proceeded to weave in and out of Clue with the nimble dexterity and relentless stamina of an old-timey boxer. His performance was uproariously entertaining; he chewed the scenery with such charm that it’s surprising he didn’t dab his chin with a napkin. 

Melendy sticks out because of his leading role but, truly, each and every cast member was exceptional in their role(s): Stewart Evan Smith approached Mr. Greene with the stature of Sidney Poitier and the timing of Carey Grant in Arsenic and Old Lace. Coombs and Pickett were the day’s understudies. It’s clear from all the performances that, no matter who’s on stage, the audience is sure to have an uproariously good time. 

The staging by Weylin Symes and choreography by Ceit Zweil uplifted the scene changes from necessary halts to some of the best parts of the show. It is common for changes to be a lights-down/lights-up affair. In Clue, we were treated to dance breaks, minxy chases, and quirky, highly stylized commutes. 

The prop design, creation, and implementation by Emily Allinson and the tech team are skillfully done. From the murder weapons to the cloth dummies filling in for assorted actors, Allinson et al deserve a special round of applause for work organizing such delightful tools of extermination. 

The cast. Photo by Nile Scott Studios.

The teamed also ensured the mechanisms of mortality never upstaged the actors. It’s hard work preventing a faux human from stealing a scene from living ones. A floppy hand or limp torso will steal an audience’s attention from even the most charismatic actor. The Clue props team straddled the fine line between camp and utter absurdity, and the actors remained our focus.  

Clue requires many swift scene changes, pulled curtains, turned windows, and sudden appearances of mysterious items. The tech crew working backstage created theatre magic onstage from behind the factual scenes while the actors drove the story forward. The success of Clue is owed in no small part to the work of these diligent craftspeople.  

Strangely the Clue playbill isn’t available to peruse online. It must be an accidental oversight. It’s easily rectified by the GBSC with a link.

I grew up watching the 1985 classic starring Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, and others. It was almost always playing on TBS after 6 PM during the 90s. It fed my crush on Mr. Curry well into my twenties. I learned about comedic timing by watching and rewinding its scenes. The movie has a lasting effect. 

I left Greater Boston Stage Company’s theatre on Sunday with a new appreciation for the stage play. I’d attended with family and their two teens. We adults loved the movie enough to remove ourselves emotionally from the stage production. 

The teens, while frequent theatre-goers, didn’t know the movie well enough to do the same. One teen loved the show for its adherence to the film; the other did not. They both had a great time. Their boisterous giggles filled our row. They chattered nonstop about their likes and dislikes on the way home. Clue the movie and the play doesn’t belong to one person in particular. It belongs to all of us. (Legally it belongs to Hasbro.)

“Us” includes the cast and crew who dedicated themselves to the production we saw on Sunday afternoon. They did a marvelous job- gold stars all around. Don’t let personal bias deter you from seeing a hilarious production, a brilliant cast, and having a grand time at the theater. Clue began as a game. It is meant to be fun.

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