Author: Allison Albitz
Last weekend, the Chatham University Drama Club presented their production of “Clue” at Eddy Theater. The two-show run drew moderate crowds, and many audience members returned the second night because of the show’s exciting plot twist: the audience gets to choose the ending.
The show followed the plot of the classic board game of the same name, with familiar characters (or suspects): Professor Plum, Mrs. Peacock, Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard, Mrs. White, and Mr. Green. The show also introduced new characters such as the narrator, Mr. Boddy (played by Bethany Bookout, a junior sustainability major) and the detective (played by first year psychology major, Sara Strassner).
At the beginning of the show, audience members were chosen to select the suspect, weapon, and room of the murder, and were encouraged to play along using the score card on the back of their program. Throughout the show, the audience got insight into Mr. Boddy’s masochistic obsession with his own death, as well as each character’s possible motive for killing him.
In the end, those audience members who were correct in their “accusations” were asked to stand and were applauded clever detective work. The inclusion of the audience in the show made it compelling, however it was the witty one-liners and actors’ over-the-top portrayal of the characters that put the show over the top.
The show’s director, Krista Arena, said choosing the production for the spring show was not without complications. The board considered a number of shows before settling on Clue.
The drama club ensured that members had a say in the production by putting the show to a vote. “The shows being voted on were all submitted suggestions by members of the club,” said Arena. “Little Shop of Horrors had won, but we realized we would need more time to pull that off.”
They made the decision to push back that production to fall of 2017, and decided upon another show that the club was interested in: a murder mystery.
However, they had trouble with this show as well. “Doing more research about that particular show, we decided that it wasn’t as fitting to our Chatham audience as it could be, so we tried to find a close alternative,” Arena said.
The board was intent on doing a play (rather than a musical), so when Diana Cabrera and Maria Shoop found the script for Clue the Musical, they knew they needed to rework it to be a play. “We changed all of the songs into monologues.”
Striking a balance between plays and monologues is important for the club, Arena said. They want to accommodate the various interests of all the members. “We try and switch between our types of performances so everyone can be involved in shows they are comfortable with.”
The audience participation in terms of the ending presented an interesting dilemma for the cast and crew of the show. With over 200 possible endings, the cast had to be prepared for any and all possibilities.
“As for preparations, we drilled the different endings and made scenarios for the cast to practice during rehearsals,” Arena said. “Once we started running through the entire show during rehearsals, I would run our options through a random number generator and have that be our random choice.”
Arena was ultimately happy with the production. “I am extremely impressed with my whole cast and how hard they worked for this show.”
This was also one of the better-attended shows the drama club has produced. “The turn out was even better than we thought,” Arena said. “We had to print more programs.”
“I really hope everyone enjoyed it,” Arena said. “I am so grateful for all the hard work my cast, crew, techs, and production team put in.”