REVIEW: ‘Clue’ a Spectacular Whodunit at CCM

Review by Liz Eichler, MTA, MBA

The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) presents their production of Clue: On Stage now through February 12. Based on the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn, and written by Sandy Rustin, this show is inspired by the Paramount Pictures Motion Picture and the iconic Hasbro board game. The opening night audience fully appreciated this laugh-packed journey through the classic murder mystery. Part farce, part mystery, with a spattering of inside jokes, it certainly keeps you guessing.

Brant Russell, must be having a great time teaching young actors about timing, building, and comedy.  The student cast brings the characters to life with tremendous energy, wit, and laughter. 

The Plot of Clue: On Stage

In brief, a number of guests are called to the estate of Mr. Boddy, and meet Wadsworth the butler. They are treated well, but wonder when Boddy will show up to greet them. They each receive a gift from him–the familiarmeurder weapons from the game:  rope, candlestick, wrench, lead pipe, gun, and dagger. Clearly there will be murder, as the bodies start to fall and mayhem—as they all try to figure out “whodunit.”

Nora Kovasckitz, in the role of Wadsworth, the mysterious butler, leads the evening. Galen Arnett portrays Colonel Mustard with a perfect blend of buffoonery and charm. Sydni Solomon’s Mrs. White brings a delightful mix of humor and intrigue, and a fear of snakes. Shaylee Bowman as Mrs. Peacock plays age and regal presence well. Gavin Duffy’s obedient Mr. Green provides some cheeky humor.

Evan Kupersmith may remind you of Ted Danson, tall and proper, but always something unhinged. He embodies the eccentricity of Professor Plum, and is one of the young performers who masters timing. Chloé Hill’s Ms. Scarlet exudes confidence. Debra Najor as Yvette the maid also has great timing, a French accent, and one of the funniest moments as she interacts with the stagehands. 

The Production Staff

Scenic Designer CCM student Gabby Tric has created not one, not two but more than four sets to seamlessly transport the audience to the iconic Clue mansion. With some help from a turntable and about 17 very visible backstage workers who earn their applause, there is great attention to detail in the scenery. It is a demanding design, and well executed to support the number of entrances and exits.  Max Cotman’s costumes are bright and have visual appeal, capturing the essence of the characters from the board game and film. Cotman is also a CCM technical design student, and had to really think about movement and fit details.

CCM Student Kevin Lawson’s Lighting Design enhances the mood and atmosphere, effectively creating suspense and drama. Ther is lots of believable thunder, lightning and fog! Brian Haack’s Sound Design, along with Kelly Yurko’s Wig & Make-Up Design, added layers of authenticity to the production.

The show features live music, because, it IS CCM. Music director Pearce Nitta and his team appear during the curtain call, surprising a few in the audience. Michael Holland’s original music enhances the suspense, and underlines that CCM is rich in talent resources. 

Overall Clue: On Stage is Enjoyable

CCM’s Clue:On Stage is an entertaining experience and great opportunity to watch young talent hone their craft. Some bits hit, some bits last a few seconds too long, and may be a bit too over the top, even for camp like this. Yet overall it is an enjoyable, exuberant whodunit spectacle that is packed with surprises and a talented ensemble. This production is a must-see for both fans of the classic board game and those seeking engaging comical live theater.

Tickets

Get your tickets HERE at the CCM Box Office. Clue:On Stage only runs through Feb 10 at the Patricia Corbett Theatre. Run time is about 100 minutes with no intermission.