‘CLUE: ON STAGE’ THE BOARD GAME MYSTERY WITH A CAMPY HILARIOUS CAST
THIS MURDER MYSTERY FORMER BOARD GAME HAS 216 POSSIBLE ENDINGS. WHO KILLED WHOM? IT WAS SOMEONE AT THE HILLBARN THEATRE AND IT COULD BE YOU
Reviewed by Vince Mediaa
“Who is the Killer” is the line frequently uttered when watching a murder mystery, but when watching “CLUE: ON STAGE” at the Hillbarn Theatre you’ll also be smiling. This 90 minute comedy is now on stage through June 19th at the Foster City Stage. Hillbarn Artistic Director Randy O’Hara says “former AD Dan Demers proposed CLUE a few seasons ago and it was a true hit with our staff. He is back to direct this and it is a true gift.” Demers has assembled some of the best comic actors to play the six neurotic guests. Including the extraordinary J. Conrad Frank as the frenetic Mrs. Peacock. I first saw this comedy at a small black box in 2017 at the Cable Car players - the creative team Peter Matthews and Nick A. Olivero had turned their small stage into the game board -- and the audience was perched above the game to watch the shenanigans.
Demers cleverly uses a series of doors and amazing props by Rosie Issel to bring this classic comic romp to the Hillbarn Stage. The guests arrive at a New England campy mansion, each received a gift: a dagger, a wrench, a rope noose, a revolver, a lead pipe, or a silver candlestick. CLUE: ON STAGE is a campy comedic play written by Sandy Rustin. It is inspired by the classic board game and based on the 1985 movie by Jonathan Lynn. One night in 1954, six strangers find themselves invited to a mysterious dinner party at Boddy Manor. Secrets are revealed, people are killed, and plenty of shenanigans follows.
The mystery begins on a dark and stormy night, as all classic murder mysteries follow this same format. We are introduced to Wadsworth the butler played by the dapper Miyaka Pical Cochrane. The rest of the house and staff includes, Yvette the maid played by the sharp Jocelyn Marquis, Miss Scarlet played by the savvy Maria Marquis, Professor Plum played by the convincing Jay Thullien, Colonel Mustard played by the sharp Mohamed Ismall, Mr. Green played by the irrelevant Steve Allhoff and Mrs. White played by the stellar Hayley Lovgren. Aradhana Babu and David Issel fill out the rest of the cast, sometimes just playing dead. The cast of characters is very colorful dressed by the creative costume designer Pamela Lampkin
The evening quickly spins out of control as the characters realize they are being blackmailed by the mysterious Mr. Boddy, played by the splendid Jesse Cortez. Then boom the murderer strikes! Many cast members are killed, the story continually tops itself. Secret after sordid secret is revealed until the breathless climax of the play arrives and justice is served to the guilty or are they guilty?
The highlight performance is the lavish J. Conrad Frank as Mrs. Peacock. Frank becomes his character with the energy and volume of a camp drag queen. He is simply hilarious. The company in this production is remarkably adept at bringing the fun to life. Cochrane plays the central character of Wadsworth who ties the entire cast together. Cochran is polished with his lightning fast delivery and a performance that embodies as much physical comedy as it does verbal humor.
The comedy includes clever slapstick comedy from scene to scene spirited by Demers fast funny direction. The entire cast really delivers on the panic and mania surrounding hiding a body. Set designer Eric Olson designed an enormous mansion on a small stage that is perfect for this run away company. Olson’s set creates an engaging environment for the actors to play the game. He includes rolling doorways moved from place to place that opens the mansion as a much larger space.
Lighting designer Sophia Craven used subtle ways to draw focus to a new space in the mansion. Craven changes the mood of the story with her use of color and hits all the punch lines. Lampkin’s costumes are eye candy as all the characters are decked out in color-coordinated attire that reflects their insane characters. Mr. Green’s suit is neat and tailored. Mrs. Peacock gowns are clearly a highlight and wig designer Jenny Maupin brings her talent not only to Frank's perfect camp but to the other cast as well.
Mustard is militaristic, and Plum appears obsessed with self aggrandizing right down to his flashy loafers. There is a perfect attention to detail that is usually only seen in much larger theatrical productions, and the effort that went into all the costumes and the entire production design including the details of Rosie Issel props.
CLUE; ON STAGE is a great time; the cast and crew give it their all and deliver on all the intrigue, comedy and downright fun in a classic murder mystery. "The game will now be afoot," the question is, “Who done it?” The answer is it could be myself or any of the sold out opening night audience. Next up at Hillbarn Theatre is the World premiere of THE FOUR GIFTS that opens August 12th. But in the meantime bring your own sleuth and wig and solve these clues.
Hillbarn Theatre and Conservatory - Presents
CLUE; ON STAGE
Based on the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn
Written by Sandy Rustin, Hunter Foster and Eric Price
Based on the HASBRO GAME CLUE
Music by Michael Holland
Directed by Dan Demers
Artistic Director Randy O’Hara
Mohamed Ismail, Jocelyn Pickett, Hayley Lovgren, Miyaka Cochrane, Maria Marquis
Steve Allhoff, Jay Thulien, Jesse Cortez, Aradlhana Babu, David Issel,
and J. Conrad Frank
Must close June 19th
The Hillbarn Theatre
1285 East Hillsdale Blvd. Calif 94404
90 minutes with no intermission
Tickets and more info https://www.hillbarntheatre.org
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HillbarnTheatre
*photos by Mark and Tracy Photography
Clue: On Stage runs through June 19, 2022, at Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City CA. For tickets and information, please visit www.hillbarntheatre.org.