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Clue: a board game, cult movie, novel and now a Stage West theatrical production

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It’s a classic board game. It’s a cult movie. It’s a novel. And from now through Nov. 22, Clue: On Stage will be a theatrical production presented in grand style at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., in Spring Hill.

“It’s a dark and stormy night, and you’ve been invited to a very unusual dinner party. Each of the guests has an alias, the butler offers a variety of weapons, and the host is, well . . . dead. So whodunnit?” reads a description released through Stage West. “Join the iconic oddballs known as Scarlet, Plum, White, Green, Peacock, and Mustard as they race to find the murderer in Boddy Manor before the body count stacks up. Based on the cult classic film and the popular board game, Clue is a madcap comedy that will keep you guessing until the final twist.”

William Wade, director of Clue at Stage West, is a huge fan of the source material. “Clue is my favorite board game,” he said, referencing the popular board game in which players try to determine which colorful character committed the plot’s central murder. “And when I saw the movie, I fell in love.” “When I heard about the stage adaption,” he said. “I had to get involved.”

Clue indeed has gained many fans throughout its seven-decade history, who embrace this enjoyable story in all its many forms.  “The board game Clue (“Cluedo” in Europe) was first released in 1949, and is based on the classic murder mystery stories of the 1940s. Each player becomes a detective, using clues to find out who killed the hapless Mr. Boddy,” wrote Len Morse in his article Original Board Game Review: Clue. “The crime-solving game teaches logic using elimination and deductive reasoning while keeping the murder aspect relatively non-graphic. Clue is made by Parker Brothers (now owned by Hasbro) and is considered a classic family game for 2–6 players, ages eight and older.”

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The Clue motion picture was the first film inspired by a board game. Produced in 1985, the movie starred screen luminaries Eileen Brennan, Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Mull, Madeline Kahn, and Christopher Lloyd, along with Tim Curry–who ranks among Wade’s favorite performers and acting heroes. And in staging Clue, he sought to find the perfect person for each of the play’s characters. “When you see the movie Clue, it’s all about the characters. You can’t imagine anyone playing each role other than the performers chosen,” he said. “I believe that, in this production, we have also found performers who really get the job done.”

Another challenge inherent in any production of Clue is the staging of a play in which every costume, every prop is symbolic and meaningful. “The set of Boddy Manor is elaborate, and lighting is always an issue,” said Wade. “Costumes, props, you always have to find the right balance.” And in this particular production of Clue, additional challenges came in response to current global conditions. Cast members rehearsed in masks, although no masks will be worn during the production. Audience seating will be socially distanced in a spacious main stage theatre, and–throughout the audition, rehearsal, and production process–cleaning and sanitization methods are in place at Stage West.

The Stage West production of Clue adds yet another dimension to this legendary production. First came the board game. Then came the film and books. Then came the stage play. And now comes the colorful, needed escape in very troubled times. “Every show gives people the opportunity to get out and enjoy the theatre. This is a dark comedy and much needed after lockdown. This is a taste of life before Covid,” said Wade, a 20-year veteran of the thespian experience. “We want to lift people’s spirits. We want to offer them a brief moment in time, an escape.” And he credits cast and crew with working together to give audience members a ‘clue’ to a joyful experience. “I’m blown away by these people, all volunteers, coming together to make this happen,” said Wade. “They are a marvel.”

Stage West Playhouse will present Clue now through Nov. 22 in matinee and evening performances. Tickets are $25 per adult, $20 for students. To purchase tickets, visit the Stage West Playhouse website. 


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