Audience helps cast of ‘Clue’ solve murder case

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On Saturday night, the popular board game Clue came to life on stage at the Manhattan Arts Center.

The fun-filled musical immersed audience members in an environmental production where the action happened all around them.

Director T-Shane Roberts began the show by greeting the audience.

“I couldn’t be … prouder [of the show], you’re going to love it,” Roberts said.

The opening act introduced character Mr. Boddy as host of the game, and he invited the audience to play along with the performers. The audience members could deduce who the “killer” was, in what room the “murder” occurred and what weapon was used by listening carefully to clues.

Throughout the musical, each of the characters from the board game were introduced as the murder suspects: Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, Col. Mustard, Mrs. White and Mr. Green.

The interactive musical started with three audience members drawing one card from each deck of the three different categories: murder suspects, murder scenes and potential murder weapons to start the game.

“Murder is the game; you choose the cards,” Mr. Boddy said.

Audience members were not allowed to see the cards, as instructed by Mr. Boddy.

“When you choose the card, hold it quickly to your chest so that you or anyone around you cannot see it, and then discreetly hand it back to Mrs. Peacock, my wife and beautiful assistant,” Mr. Boddy said, instructing the audience members.

The cards were then placed in an oversized envelope marked “Confidential,” just like the board game.

Each character of the musical had ample motive to murder Mr. Boddy. Mrs. Peacock was a five-time widow who had recently made Mr. Boddy her sixth husband. She said she had already “done away” with her previous husbands and preferred being a wealthy widow.

Professor Plum was a self-proclaimed “author by trade, intellect by birth and American by choice,” and his character despised Mr. Boddy’s business practices, which led to the loss of funding for the school where he taught, costing him his job.

Miss Scarlet was a former Vegas performer who got mixed up in one of Mr. Boddy’s schemes, which left her penniless.

Col. Mustard said he wished Mr. Boddy was dead so he could have his former lover, Mrs. Peacock, all to himself.

Mrs. White was the overworked, underpaid housekeeper of Mr. Boddy who wanted him dead so she could rest, while Mr. Green was portrayed as a sleazy conman who was outsmarted by Mr. Boddy’s business ventures.

Mr. Boddy gave audience members clues in the form of rhymes, which provided them with the information they needed to solve the mystery. Audience members eliminated the cards with no value to crack the case, like in the board game.

Comic antics, jokes, singing and dancing carried the investigation from room to room. In the final act, a hard-nosed detective was brought in to assist the audience in solving the murder.

Robyn Hilt, sophomore in secondary education, said she really enjoyed the show. Hilt said by intermission, she had already figured out the murder weapon and room, but had not pieced together the identity of the murderer, since each suspect had such a convincing alibi.

“I really like the audience interaction; you have to really pay attention,” Hilt said. “It’s so suspenseful. You just have to know what happened!”

Dan Haller, a junior in journalism and mass communications, who played Col. Mustard, said the musical was choreographed by two of the other actors: Ben Deghand, who played Professor Plum, and Tyler Woods, who played Mrs. White.

Haller said it was easy to learn the choreography since the choreographers understood that it is not possible to perform huge, elaborate choreographed scenes while still trying to act.

“They found a happy medium,” Haller said. “The choreography was good and easy.”

Roberts said the cast rehearsed for six weeks: two weeks of music and four weeks of solid, strong rehearsals.

The bar offered snacks and both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, including a drink named “Clueless” that was featured for the musical.

Repeat performances are scheduled for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with all shows beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for the Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. For information on upcoming performances, visit the arts center’s website at manhattanarts.org.

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