Thursday, February 29, 2024

"Clue" on tour at the Orpheum Theatre

A newish 90-minute non-musical stage adaptation of the cult classic 1985 movie Clue is going on tour, and it's premiering right here in Minneapolis! I'm not a particular fan of this movie, in fact I watched it for the first time just last week (#research). I found the movie to be quite delightful, and the play even more so. First of all, I love a 90-minute show at the Orpheum Theatre, when you don't have to sit through a 20-minute intermission (or worse yet stand in line for the bathroom for 20 minutes), or stay up past 11pm (#morningperson). Secondly, it's a really fun mystery with lots of wordplay, clever nods to the popular board game, and hilarious physical comedy. The 90 minutes are jam-packed with laughs, the mystery part taking a back seat to the entertainment factor. If you're looking for a different kind of tour that's non-musical, short and sweet, and a fun time, check out the premiere of Clue through March 3 only, after which it will embark on a tour across the country.

The stage play follows the plot of the movie fairly closely. Six strangers show up at a New England mansion, greeted by a butler and maid. It soon comes to light that all of them are being blackmailed, and the owner of the mansion, a Mr. Boddy, has invited them in order to end the blackmail once and for all (or continue it forever). Spoiler alert: Mr. Boddy becomes a body, and more bodies continue to drop. The group bands together to search the house and look for the murderer, while fending off unwelcome visitors. To say more would ruin the delights of watching it all unfold, especially the final reveal which is quite entertaining.

the cast of Clue (photo by Evan Zimmerman)
Casey Hushion directs the play with a great sense of fun, energy, and over the top humor. There's no choreographer or movement director listed, so I guess she's also to thank for the melodramatic movements and little dancing sequences between scenes (to original music composed by Michael Holland). Everyone in this 11-person cast is just fantastic, so playful and present, so specific in their character choices. But the gold star goes to Mark Price as the butler Wadsworth. The role was played by Tim Curry in the movie - big shoes to fill, but he doesn't try to fill them, he makes the role totally his own. He's delightful enough as the prim and proper British butler, leading everyone through the shenanigans, but then he gets to reenact the events of the evening, and it's the comedic highlight of the evening. Also great are Elisabeth Yancey as the French maid Yvette, John Treacy Egan as the charmingly dim Colonel Mustard, Tari Kelly (Lola in the Ordway's 2015 production of Damn Yankees) as the black widow known as Mrs. White, Joanna Glushak as the not-so-teetotaling Mrs. Peacock, an incredibly nimble John Schartzer as the nervous Mr. Green, Jonathan Spivey as the disgraced doctor Professor Plum, Michelle Elaine as the unashamed madam Miss Scarlett, and Alex Syiek as the Boddy and other bodies.

the cast of Clue (photo by Evan Zimmerman)
All nine rooms of the Clue board game are represented in a clever way (even if there was a minor delay due to technical difficulties on press night). The large entrance hall of Boddy Manor has many doors (because in a farce, more doors = more funny), and side panels that open up to reveal other rooms. A few backdrops are lowered to represent even more rooms, with the cast creating a sense of distance as they mime running from place to place, this and other physical comedy well choreographed and well executed. The characters are dressed in '50s era attire, per their named colors but in a not too obvious way (scenic design by Lee Savage and costume design by Jen Caprio).

A delightfully fun and entertaining evening at the theater and an early bedtime - what's better than that?! See Clue at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis now through March 3.