Gather your candlestick, lead pipe, and rope—a mystery is afoot. Clue, the schtick-y play-based-on-the-movie-based-on-the-game, is playing at the Marcus Performing Arts Center through March 17. It’s a hit of nostalgia you’re not going to want to miss.

Packed with wry wit, plenty of physical jokes, and even a slow motion scene, this version of Clue is a close-to-home reimagining written by playwright Sandy Rustin. The 80-minute play deeply honors the subject material, while offering on-site gags that breathe fresh life into the familiar story.

If you grew up with the 1985 film, you know any remake would have big shoes to fill. The beloved cult classic is filled with gaudy characters, scandalous circumstances, and ostentatious performances by the whole crew. Any reproduction of Clue will be skeptically measured against the magic that Tim Curry and the rest of the cast made nearly 40 years ago. I’m convinced this performance rises to the challenge.

The play opens on a gorgeous set. There are floor-to-ceiling (seemingly) mahogany walls and accents. The chandeliers and sconces are real, too. Yvette (Elizabeth Yancy), the sultry maid, is listening to a hearing of the House of Un-American Activities Committee on TV. One by one, guests arrive and are greeted by frisky and sly Wadsworth, played by an unforgettable Mark Price.

The cast of characters is full of career criminals, or at least shady characters, based in Washington D.C. Professor Plum (Johnathan Spivey) is a psychologist who gets a little too hands-on with his patients. Miss Scarlett (Michelle Elaine) is a working woman. Mr. Green (John Shartzer) is a nervous gay Republican who is caught voting against Eisenhower. Colonel Mustard (John Treacy Egan), unlike the movie, is played as an oblivious military dimwit. Mrs. White (Tari Kelly) has some suspiciously dead husbands racking up, and Mrs. Peacock (Joanna Glushak) is a lush with some secrets hiding behind her fancy headpiece.

Dinner is served by the cook, played by a memorable Mariah Burks, who kicks off the night, and the antics. After some chatting, the crew realizes they all have some connection to Mr. Boddy, the owner of the estate. He enters, and reveals that he has been blackmailing each of them. He offers his dinner guests a proposition: kill Wadsworth, who holds all of his secrets, and the blackmailing price won’t go up.

During a quick power outage, a gunshot is heard and screams ring out. The lights come back on and it is revealed that Mr. Boddy has been shot. Someone in the room is the murderer. The police are on their way in 90 minutes, and it’s up to the guests to solve the mystery and destroy the evidence before they’re all framed.

So, the whodunit unfolds. Rooms reveal themselves like rotating doors. Fun lighting tricks and Scooby Doo-like tiptoeing between sets makes transitions seamless. The dinner guests lie, trick, and hide. The bodies stack up, and each guest becomes more and more suspicious.

In an homage to the film, alternate endings are played out by the whole cast. Evidence is found zipped up in a fly and in shoes. Kelly does an incredible rendition of Mrs. White’s meme-worthy “Flames, on the side of my face,” and Mr. Green wraps the whole thing up with the classic, “I’m gonna go home and sleep with my wife.”

There are no weak links in this ensemble cast—there aren’t even weak deliveries. Each actor completely embodies their character, bringing even the smallest moments to life. There’s plenty to love about the performance: Mr. Green somehow always gets under the weight of a dead body. Miss Scarlett uses her sex appeal to get out of (and into) antics. There’s synchronized door opening/closing, fainting, and dancing. A chandelier falls.

There’s no fat to trim here. Director Casey Hushion moves everything along at a steady clip, which is especially impressive in a no-intermission performance. Hushion is also responsible for the strength of the ensemble here—perhaps a difficult line to toe when each individual actor is so stand-out. But ultimately, true to its cardboard-based origins, collaboration is the name of the game in the murder mystery of Clue.

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About The Author

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Carmella is a local copywriter. When she's not typing behind the computer, you can catch her at a local show or thrift store.