Center Stage: ‘Clue the Musical’ makes murder merry
Inspired by the Parker Brothers 1944 board game, “Clue the Musical,” is currently wowing the audiences at the Broadway Palm. Although “Clue the Musical” opened Off Broadway in 1997 to less than enthusiastic reviews, this show has played to excellent notices when produced regularly by community and dinner theaters like the Broadway Palm. I think the dinner theater format is best suited for presenting this entertaining show since audience participation is so much part of the show; every audience member is presented with a clue pad and a pencil to fill in your own deductions or if you are so inclined you can simply sit back and relax and enjoy this 90 minute two-act merry murder mystery.
Posing the familiar questions of ‘who done what,’ ‘where’ and ‘with what weapon,’ “Clue” assembles the usual suspects in a manor house. Beginning at the top of the show the victim Mr. Boddy (lord of the manor) astutely performed by Christopher Violett. Violett’s earnest portrayal is playful but never giddy or over the top during the progress of his impending murder. Other than an untimely death Violett’s secondary role is that of a host, and he does an excellent job conveying the rules and process of the game. As ringmaster of this game Violett displays a rich baritone singing voice right from the top with his opening scene setting song “The Game.” Next Mr. Boddy acting as interactive host, summons three audience participants to the stage to select cards that will identify the killer, the weapon and the room, these six by six by six clue setups means there are 216 possible endings to this show
For those of you familiar with Clue the Game, it will come as no surprise that all six of Boddy’s guests, including the housekeeper, Mrs. White (hilariously portrayed by Theresa Walker,) have it in for Boddy and a motive for “offing” him.
Since everybody has a motive let’s start with Mrs. White the housekeeper as she sings her song of survival (Life Is A Bowl Of Pits) while maliciously tenderizing the roast with a giant carving knife. Next, we are introduced to a shifty, nattily green suited Mr. Green (wonderfully played to high tough guy standards, by Craig Smith) who was swindled in a bank and business deal by Boddy. We meet the often-widowed Mrs. Peacock (snooty and comical Jennifer Hope) singing of foul play after leaving several dead husbands in her wake. Professor Plum (droll Troy Bruchwalski) whose family oil business was forced into bankruptcy by Boddy singing his tale of woe while tying a hunk of clothesline into a noose. In the role of Colonel Mustard, Kirk Lawrence not only fits the costume well he wears the role perfectly as his blustery yet no nonsense portrayal adds just the right, balance to the already kooky cast. Katherine Walker Hill as Miss. Scarlet, a sultry lounge singer, has a fire in her eyes that brings believability to her character. Hill adds plenty of spice to her role and is not afraid to exaggerate her character’s sexuality when it comes to getting her way.
I have saved the best till last when that ever so winning, knock your socks off performer Sami Doherty burns the stage as the Detective. This performer with the 2,000 watt smile just walks away with any show she’s in, and “Clue the Musical” is no different. Wow! The Detective shows up late in the proceedings and tries to solve the crime despite skepticism from the guests with the song “She Doesn’t Have A Clue”.
Depth of character is not at play here nor is it necessary because everyone is a colorful one-dimensional game piece and the Palm’s one dimensional “board” set by Dominic Lau works perfectly as do the Crayola colored costumes by Beth Dunkelberger.
Director Dean Sobon and Choreographer Samantha Hewes Cramer have caught perfectly what this show’s creator Peter De Pietro intended, a 90-minute romp, packed with wit and goofiness into the proceedings, as when the suspects mock the detective as belonging in another game such as “Sorry” or “Life”, or when Mr. Green regularly spews mangled clichs (that’s the way the cookie bounces) while Mrs. Peacock amusingly explains away the deaths of her many previous husbands (Once A Widow).
This combination of humor, music mixed in with some ludicrous suspense makes for a fun 90 minutes in the theater watching a super cast having a fun time bamboozling us with their antics.
Gotta say this is one fun show for the younger folks in your family they will have a blast playing this interactive mystery solving musical. So get you spy glass and cap and play along with “Clue the Musical” now playing at the Broadway Palm until June 24. Let the game begin by phoning the box office at (239) 278-4422. Remember when you phone to remind ’em Marsha sent you.