Sunday, September 29, 2019

WOBT: "Clue, the Musical"

Clue, the Musical has been seen before in the River Region. Based on the Parker Brothers board game, audiences are challenged to figure out whether it was "Mr. Green, in the Conservatory, with the knife" or any other possible solution to the murder of Mr. Boddy. -- At the start, selected audience members draw cards determining the night's solution; they are placed secretly in an envelope to be opened at the conclusion, and guaranteeing a different result at each performance.

Eleventh-hour casting changes impacted opening night at first-time director Michael Proper's production of Clue, the Musical at Prattville's Way Off Broadway Theatre, necessitating several actors performing "on book" and receiving support and assistance from their fellow actors. Though this slowed down the pace and impacted their energy, the maxim "the show must go on" was reflected in the stalwart company's commitment to adapting to circumstances and providing entertainment to their audiences. -- Expectations are high that the company will get more secure during the run of the show.

With music by Galen Blum, Wayne Barker, and Vinnie Martucci, lyrics by Tom Chiodo, and book by Peter DePietro, Clue, the Musical gives us a narrator in the person of Mr. Boddy [Edward Arrington] who provides "clues" to his murder throughout the two acts. There's an ensemble of six suspects, each of whom has a past relationship and motive to kill him: Mrs. Peacock [Karla McGhee], Professor Plum [Lee Bridges], Miss Scarlett [Desirae Lewis], Col. Mustard [Jordan Berry], Mrs. White [Xandria Hataway], and Mr. Green [David Shelnutt] show us around the rooms in Mr. Boddy's mansion, while handling an array of weapons so there is no mistake about who, where, and with what the murder might happen.

Unfortunately, this exposition takes a very long time, with only a few energetic moments or clever dialogue within its unremarkable musical score. When the murder happens at the end of Act I, we are left with figuring out the solution as the action picks up in Act II with the addition of a female detective to sort things out despite the suspects ganging together for mutual protection.

There are a number of running jokes to enliven the dialogue -- Mr. Bridges is adept at linguistic perfection and shows Professor Plum's growing frustration with other characters' misuse of the English language, and his Act II debate with the Detective [last minute substitute Tammy Lee] as they trade literary references is a delight. -- And Ms. Lewis is a brightly unabashed Miss Scarlett, selling every moment in song and dialogue with such aplomb and vivacity that she is the measure of professionalism exhibited in this show.

Performed on a "crayola" set that replicates the board game, and with vibrant costumes depicting each character, this version of Clue, the Musical ought to find its feet and continue to entertain the WOBT audiences.