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Plaza Theatre; “Clue: On Stage” Review

By: Kevin and Becky Blalock 

Plaza Update: We regret to inform you that this weekend’s performances of Clue have been cancelled due to a COVID exposure. We apologize for the unavoidable late notice as this decision and the circumstances prompting it have just been discussed. If the quarantine is successfully resolved by Thursday of next week, we will hold those scheduled performances. To exchange tickets or request a refund, please contact the Plaza office at 979-282-2226 or at https://whartonplazatheatre.org/contact-us/.

“Who done it?” is an expression frequently uttered when watching a murder mystery, but when watching “Clue: On Stage” at the Plaza Theatre you will also be laughing out loud just as frequently. 

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We are all familiar with “Clue” right? The famous Hasbro board game where players deduce who a murderer is based on clues discovered during play?

Suspicious or suspected… who can tell? (L-R) Mrs. White (Janice McDonald), Mr. Green (Eli Kresta), Wadsworth (Matthew Graff), Miss Scarlet (Eden Rule), Colonel Mustard (Todd Respondek), and Mrs. Peacock (Jami Hughes). Photo by Sharon Joines

Many will also be familiar with the cult favorite 1985 film adaptation of the game which this play is based upon.

If you are familiar with neither of them then A. — we must assume you grew up on the moon (which must have been cool) but also B. — familiarity with the source material is absolutely not required to enjoy this production. 

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The play opens on a dark and stormy night, just as all great murder mysteries are contractually obligated to do.

We are very quickly introduced to Wadsworth the butler (Matthew Graff), the Cook, Yvette the maid, Miss Scarlet (Eden Rule), Professor Plum (Adraylle Watson), Colonel Mustard (Todd Respondek), Mrs. Peacock (Jami Hughes), Mr. Green (Eli Kresta) and Mrs. White (Janice McDonald).

The cast of characters is very colorful — both literally and figuratively.

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A tower of curious suspects. From top: Todd Respondek as Colonel Mustard, Jami Hughes as Mrs. Peacock, Adraylle Watson as Prof. Plum, Janice McDonald as Mrs. White, Eli Kresta as Mr. Green, and Eden Rule as Miss Scarlet. Photo by Sharon Joines

Things quickly spin out of control as the characters realize they are being blackmailed by the mysterious Mr. Boddy (Erick Whitley), and then the murderer strikes!

We will not reveal here who (or how many) cast members are “offed” but let’s just say the story continually tops itself throughout.

Secret after sordid secret is revealed until the breathless climax of the play arrives, and justice is served to the guilty party(ies)! 

The actors featured in this ensemble production are delightful and remarkably adept at bringing the source material to life.

Matthew Graff plays the central character of Wadsworth who ties the entire cast together. As usual, Graff excels with lightning-fast delivery and a performance that embodies as much physical as it does verbal humor.

Each character has their certain trait that makes them memorable, and the actors make the most of the lines they are given.

In truth this play allows for much physical comedy all around, and the entire cast really delivers on the panic and mania surrounding hiding a body. We also appreciate the “dead” performers who were appropriately limp and floppy and added to the humor of the situation.

Miss Scarlet (Eden Rule) and Colonel Mustard (Todd Respondek) review their notes and contemplate evidence. Whodunnit? Photo by Sharon Joines

The blocking required by the story is specific and seemingly complicated, yet all seems effortlessly executed. 

Depicting an enormous mansion on a small stage is impossible, but the clever way in which rolling doorways are moved from place to place allows the mind to imagine a much larger space.

Lighting is also used in subtle ways to draw our focus to a new space in the mansion. Images from the board game itself are projected on the back wall to indicate a specific room.

Mrs. Peacock (Jami Hughes) has an opinion as Colonel Mustard (Todd Respondek), Mr. Green (Eli Kresta) and Wadsworth (Matthew Graff) look on from the Dining Room. Photo by Sharon Joines

All of this combines to create an engaging environment for the actors to play in. 

Of special note is the costume design. All the characters are decked out in color-coordinated attire that reflects their name.

Not only does their garb suit them in palette, but it also reflects aspects of their personality. Mr. Green’s suit is neat and tailored.

Mrs. Peacock is appropriately garish. Mustard is militaristic, and Plum appears obsessed with self-aggrandizing (right down to his flashy purple loafers.)

There is a nuanced attention to detail here that is usually only seen in much larger theatrical productions, and we applaud the effort that went into these costumes! 

Overall, this production is a great time at the theatre.

The cast and crew give it their all and deliver on all the intrigue, comedy and downright fun inherent in “Clue.” If the question is, “Who done it?” then the answer is “The Plaza Theatre.” And they “done” a good job. 

“Clue: On Stage” will be performed on the Plaza stage from February 5th – 14th, 2020. For tickets visit www.whartonplazatheatre.org or call 979-282-2226. Photo by Sharon Joines

“Clue: On Stage” is directed by Reagan Wrench (along with Assistant Director Darin Mielke.)

It can be seen at the Plaza Theatre February 5 – 14. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. Sunday performances at 2:30 p.m. Limited seating is available and social distancing protocols are in place.

For tickets visit www.whartonplazatheatre.org or call 979-282-2226.

ABOUT BECKY AND KEVIN: Kevin and Becky Blalock are a couple from Houston, Texas who love all things film & theater. They met in an art class in 2006 at Sam Houston State University where they formed a close friendship that eventually grew into marriage. Today they enjoy spending hours discussing movies together, and they own/operate a small graphic design business in west Houston where they continue to pursue their love of art and creativity daily through the work they do for clients. They have two cats and a turtle who all seem ambivalent to their love of art. 

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