Clue, the mystery boardgame of my youth, has been wonderfully, intelligently and hysterically been brought to the stage of the Paper Mill Playhouse. It’s no mystery why this deftly directed and designed production is so entertaining. Every aspect of the show is well done and deserves praise. Do not pass, go directly to papermill.org and book tickets. The production runs through February 20, 2022.
Set (cleverly designed by Lee Savage) at Boddy Manor on a thunderous torrentially rainy night, several people arrive for a party. The party goers are all being blackmailed by their host who gives them a chance to clear their names. However, murder is the order of the day. The party goers must survive and identify the murderer. The time is 1954, when Senator McCarthy was condemning people and naming names whether they were guilty of anything or weren’t.
If you’ve played the game Clue, you know the party goers. There’s dim Colonel Mustard (John Tracey Egan), the widower Mrs. White (Donna English), batty Mrs. Peacock (Kathy Fitzgerald), sultry Miss Scarlet (Sarah Hollis), Professor Plum (Michael Kostroff) and Mr. Green (Alex Mandell). They each cluless but curious arrive at the mansion greeted by Butler Wadsworth (Mark Price), sexy maid Yvette (Isabelle McCalla) and the cook (Hazel Anne Raymundo). After a bit of exposition each is handed the classic game murder weapon: gun, rope, wrench, candlestick, knife, and lead pipe. Then the games begin. Who is the murderer? Why are they being blackmailed? Can they beat the game by surviving?
The script – a combination of the 1980’s movie by Jonathan Lynn with additional material by Hunter Foster and Eric Price – is tied together by Sandy Rustin. They weave a credible mystery, layer in laughs and foster a highly enjoyable evening. Director Casey Hushion keeps the action moving swiftly and you’re never far from a laugh. Jen Caprio’s costumes give each performer distinction and subtle clues as to their board game identify. Michael Holland’s original music builds suspense and tension. Ryan J. O’Gara’s lighting shades mystery and works in apt conjunction with the rest of the production elements to make the game engaging.
Each actor takes on their game piece-name and embodies the characters with skill, humor, and tongue in each cheek. Price shines as Wadsworth. His deft brilliance is sly and a joy to watch. The precise ensemble amps the humor and mystery making Clue a great evening out. This game is a madcap, 90-minute puzzle that's mostly silly and engagingly fun. Chockfull of physical comedy, sight gags, and dorky goodness, this board game come to life is a wonderful distraction from 21st century realities.
Solve your entertainment mystery by bringing the family to Paper Mill for Clue. Tickets and more information at papermill.org.
Paper Mill Playhouse is located at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, New Jersey. Click here for information on the theatre's updated COVID-19 protocols.
Photos by Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made