Theater Review: Pines has a ‘Clue’ in new musical
Even if you’ve never played the internationally popular board game “Clue,” you probably are familiar with the colorfully-named murder suspects: Professor Plum, Miss Scarlett, Mrs. Peacock, Colonel Mustard, Mrs. White and Mr. Green.
The board game “Clue” was patented in 1944 by English musician Anthony E. Pratt, who invented it to help wile away the time during underground air raid drills during World War II. It was only a matter of time, given its popularity, that it would become a musical.
For the past 75 years, they have taken turns murdering their host, aptly named Mr. Boddy, in a variety of rooms with an arsenal of different weapons from a pipe to a candlestick.
In 1995, the motley cast of characters and their armaments were brought to life and set to music on stage for the first time in “Clue: The Musical,” with book by Peter DePietro; music by Galen Blum, Wayne Barker and Vinnie Martucci;,and lyrics by Tom Chiodo.
With “Clue: The Musical” through Oct. 27, Pines Dinner Theatre, Allentown, audiences get to hear and see the suspects up close and personal, while considering a host of clues, motives and alibis in any one of 216 possible solutions.
The Sept. 13 performance, seen for this review, featured a tour-de-force company of eight players, each of whom was perfectly matched to his or her role. The robust cast of actor-singers assembled by director Oliver Blatt went about revealing each other’s sordid backgrounds and apparent reasons for murdering their host.
James Ofalt physically dominates the stage as the murder victim, Mr. Boddy, who has invited the suspects to his home in Tudor Mansion. Each guest wants him dead.
Ofalt is adept at one-liners: “I have to live to be killed,” he quips.
At times, because of his height, physical presence and rich baritone voice, there are comparisons to the Frankenstein comedic character Herman in the TV comedy show “The Munsters.”
The oft-widowed Mrs. Peacock, played by Amber Blatt, is a stand-out in her blue suit and flamboyant matching hat. She is high-energy and never out of character as she transforms from manipulative socialite to sultry vamp. Her versatile vocal range goes from alto to soprano.
Christopher Wheatley is perfectly pompous as Colonel Mustard in his starched uniform with yellow trim. Jennifer Hope is a riot as Mrs. White, the cockney housekeeper with an itch and a grudge.
Other cast members equally enjoyable to watch are Kristofer Holz (Professor Plum), Leslea Rodig (Miss Scarlet), Michael Covel (Mr. Green) and Hannah Michael (the Detective).
Characterizations are enhanced by costume designer Stacey Yoder’s high-quality, color-matched ensembles.
Oliver Blatt’s set, as always, makes the most of the intimate space available, this time using two moveable wall panels to change from one potential murder site to another. Blatt’s lighting design creates just the right amount of spookiness.
Tickets: Pines Dinner Theatre box office, 448 N. 17th St., Allentown; pinesdinnertheatre.com; 610-433-2333