Thursday, February 26, 2015

Millbrook: "Clue, the Musical"

"Mr. Green...with the the kitchen!" is but one of the 216 possible outcomes of the Millbrook Community Players' production of Clue, the Musical.

Based on the Parker Brothers board game that's been around since 1944, this stage version -- book by Peter DePietro; music by Galen Blum, Wayne Barker, and Vinnie Martucci; lyrics by Tom Chiodo -- has already made the rounds of many River Region theatres, and has achieved some degree of popularity nationwide since its 1995 debut.

Sam Wallace directs on a set that replicates the "Clue" game-board and which adds a few unexpected flourishes with nicely disguised entrances. -- The board game's rules are so familiar, but the script adds Mr. Boddy [the host at the mansion who is to be murdered by one of the six characters] and a female detective brought in to solve the murder and disclose whodunit, with what weapon, and in which room of the mansion.

It seems (in an over-long and convoluted first act exposition) that all the guests have some relationship with Mr. Boddy and might just have a motive for murdering him. Mr. Boddy serves as a kind of narrator who provides clues to the audience throughout Acts I and II, and invites them to interact by figuring it out by the play's end. -- And there is an unremarkable musical score that only occasionally puts some life into this diverting but rather ordinary story.

The ensemble cast play their roles with assurance providing some clever details to enhance their cartoonish personae to garner appreciative laughter from the audience, though some of the dialogue is either rushed or covered by audience responses that we often miss some of the script's witty references.

The deliberate pace of many scenes often slows down the madcap energy so necessary here. But the clear good will of the cast helps make a pleasant evening in the theatre.