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“Clue: The Musical” Transforms the Popular Board Game into an Interactive Whodunit with 216 Possible Endings

"Clue: The Musical" opens on Oct. 22nd

"Clue: The Musical" opens on Oct. 22nd

North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre will revive its popular production of the 1997 Off-Broadway hit Clue: The Musical, once again directed by Michael A. West, on Oct. 22-24 and 29-31 and Nov. 5-7 at NRACT, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center, in north Raleigh, NC. (NRACT’s initial community-theater presentation of this interactive whodunit ran Oct. 26-29 and Nov. 3-5, 2006.)

Clue: The Musical, which has 216 possible endings, features music by Galen Blum, Wayne Barker, and Vinnie Martucci; lyrics by Tom Chiodo; and a book by Peter DePietro. As with the board game, the NRACT audience gets to play, using a scorecard conveniently printed in their programs to try to identify the murder Suspect, Weapon, and Room.

“I came across the script several years ago,” recalls director Mikey West. “We staged a very successful production of Clue at NRACT back in 2006, and people have been asking when we would do it again. There have only been two shows at NRACT brought back because of popular demand, and I’m very proud that Clue: The Musical is one of them.”

West says, “I enjoy stories with the absurdist/post-modern twist of people knowing they’re characters in a story (or play, or film). Groucho Marx turning to the camera and talking to the audience, Oliver Hardy and Alan Hale Jr. (Skipper on ‘Gilligan’s Island’) turning to the camera and doing their famous ‘slow burn’ looks, or George Reeves giving the viewers a wink at the end of a ‘Superman’ episode — these things appeal to me.

“In Clue,” West says, “the Suspects all know they live in a game; they’ve been through this a thousand times before and are destined to repeat the cycle every time you take the lid off the box. I also love the music in Clue — its multipart harmonies with an eerie, macabre feel …. But I think it was the fact that the show has 216 possible endings that made me want to direct it. The audience gets to play along during the show, so it borders on being an interactive piece.”

When the curtain rises, says director Mikey West, “Mr. Boddy (Jordan Long) has invited six guests to Boddy Manor so that he can fulfill his purpose in life — to die. Joining him are: Mrs. Peacock (Romni Rossi), a wealthy, oft-married socialite; Professor Plum (Andy Miller), a pedantic intellectual; Miss Scarlet (Mary Beth Hoots), a vivacious Vegas vamp; Colonel Mustard (Mike Anderson), a frisky, feisty military strategist; Mrs. White (Jessica Smith), Mr. Boddy’s much-put-upon domestic; and Mr. Green (Daniel Spenser), a malaproping ‘Get-Rich-Quick’ schemer.”

West adds, “At the start of the show, Mr. Boddy, aided by The Dice (Allison and Macy Borter), is joined onstage by three audience volunteers who then draw cards to determine that evening’s killer, weapon, and room (the choices are kept secret and stashed in an envelope in plain sight of the audience). Boddy then spends the evening needling his guests in the hopes of inciting one of them to murder and giving clues to the audience for that evening’s solution.

“At the end of Act One,” West says, “Mr. Boddy meets his grisly end, but that doesn’t stop him from continuing to host the Second Act. To help the audience win the game, Mr. Boddy brings in a ringer: a beautiful and brainy Detective (Ashley-Nicole Lewis) to investigate the crime. At first, the Suspects dismiss the leggy gumshoe; but they soon change their tune, once she begins exposing their dirty laundry.

“Finally, the Detective reveals the killer, room, and weapon; but, in the end, not everything is what it seems to be,” claims Mikey West.

In addition to director Mikey West, who doubles as the show’s set designer, the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre creative team for Clue: The Musical includes producer, assistant director, and sound designer Debbie West; musical director and pianist Carolyn Colquitt; percussionist Elliotte Lawling; technical director Mike Anderson; lighting designer Jonathan Fitts; properties manager Ashley Jones; and stage manager Samantha West. Mikey West notes that Ashley-Nicole Lewis choreographed 2 of the musical numbers.

Mikey West reports, “The set is composed of six movable columns, which are reconfigured to form the different rooms in Boddy Manor…. As the Suspects introduce themselves,” West adds, “they are bathed in their signature colors. Whenever Mr. Boddy gives clues, the house lights are brought up briefly, so the audience can mark their game forms.”

West notes, “The cast has done an excellent job of costuming themselves, not only in their namesake colors, but also in a way that expresses the essence of their characters….

“There were a couple challenges to this show,” admits director Mikey West. One was the music, five- and six-part harmonies, with reprises that take the creepy, weird aspects of the music and make them even stranger. Carolyn Colquitt, my music director, had her work cut out for her and she doesn’t disappoint.”

West adds, “Another challenge was the props, specifically the weapons. I wanted the weapons to be as close as possible to the ones people remember from the board game of their youth. A pipe, a candlestick, and a length of rope are pretty easy to come by; but coming up with the old-fashioned monkey wrench, the pepperbox revolver, and the iconic Clue dagger was quite a challenge.

“During the segment known as ‘The Murder’ (where The Suspects are running around pell-mell, armed with the various weapons in their quest to bump off Mr. Boddy), it was a challenge for props mistress Ashley Jones and stage manager Samantha West to trade out weapons with the actors at breakneck pace while being careful that no one gets hurt,” says Mikey West.

He adds, “Clue: The Musical is pure campy, silly, tongue-in-cheek fun. The actors chew the scenery with a zest that would make [‘Batman’s’] Adam West and [‘Star Trek’s’] William Shatner proud.”

North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents CLUE: THE MUSICAL at 8 p.m. Oct. 22, 23, 29, and 30 and Nov. 5 and 6; and 3 p.m. Oct. 24 and 31 and Nov. 7 at NRACT, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615.

TICKETS: $15 Friday and Saturday ($12 students and seniors 62+) and $10 Sunday.

BOX OFFICE: 919/866-0228 or http://www.etix.com/.

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/866-0228. SHOW: http://www.nract.org/2010/09/07/clue-musical/.

SEASON: http://www.nract.org/shows/.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.nract.org/.

OTHER LINKS:

The Musical: http://www.cluethemusical.com/ (official website) and http://www.lortel.org/LLA_archive/index.cfm?search_by=show&title=Clue: The Musical (Internet Off-Broadway Database).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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