Interview: Elisabeth Yancey of CLUE at Ohio Theatre

Actress enjoys playing quirky Yvette, a character with many secrets

By: Apr. 04, 2024
Interview: Elisabeth Yancey of CLUE at Ohio Theatre
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Interview: Elisabeth Yancey of CLUE at Ohio Theatre

When Elisabeth Yancey grew up playing the Hasbro game Clue, she didn’t realize she was preparing for her career. Yancey plays the role of Yvette the Maid in the national tour of CLUE, which will have an extended stay from April 9-14 at the Ohio Theatre (39 E. State Street in downtown Columbus).

“I used to play it with my two younger brothers, Charlie and Taylor,” Yancey said in a telephone interview from Appleton, Wis., the second stop of the tour. “They loved all the little murder weapons. I think they loved it even more than I did.”

Yancy’s current gig is like the board game, only without the plastic nooses and metal pipe wrenches to keep track of. The Jonathan Lynn (original screenplay) and Sandy Rustin (book) play borrows heavily from the 1985 movie CLUE (starring Martin Mull, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Michael McKean, and Christopher Lloyd). Six eccentric guests arrive at the estate of Mr. Boddy but when their host is found murdered, each of the guests become a suspect. As the body count increases, audiences are left to figure out the WHO, the WEAPON, and the WHERE of the crime.

Yancey joins a talented ensemble of suspects, featuring John Treacy Egan (Col. Mustard), Michelle Elaine (Miss Scarlet), Joanna Glushak (Mrs. Peacock), Tari Kelly (Mrs. White), John Shartzer (Mr. Green) and Jonathan Spivey (Professor Plum) as well as Mark Price (Wadsworth), Mariah Burks (the Cook), Alex Syiek (Mr. Boddy) and Teddy Trice (The Cop).

Without tipping her hand too much to the plot, Yancey said, the play “plays homage to the film in the way the ending works.”

 “There are some fun surprises at the end. People really seem to love the ending, and often seem very surprised by it,” she said.

This is Yancey’s second go-around as Yvette, having played the role in the Cleveland Playhouse’s performance in 2020. Egan, Price and Burks also reprise their roles from the Cleveland cast as does director Casey Hushion.

The show had an extended run. Shortly after the curtain closed on CLUE, the pandemic hit. Four years later, Yancey’s manager told her they were putting on a national tour of the show and she was invited to try out.

“It was definitely a unique audition situation in that I had done the part before and I was (auditioning) in the same scene I had done four years ago,” she said. “I walked into the audition room in New York and Casey got right up from behind the table and gave me an enormous hug.”

Last December, a month after auditioning, Yancey was working in an afterschool program on Deer Island, Maine and telling a friend about the audition and that she was waiting to hear an answer.

Then her cell phone buzzed.

“It was the best Christmas gift ever,” she said.

Being reunited with Yvette was like joining a good friend for coffee … only the visit lasts a year.

“She’s an absolute blast to play,” she said. “She’s feisty and she has a lot of secrets. At the beginning of the show, you think she has only a small part to play, but she plays a larger role later in the story.”

Playing Yvette means learning to master a French accent, which is part of Yancey’s skill set. She grew up listening to Jim Dale navigate the many voices in the Harry Potter series and grew fascinated with linguistics.

“I come from a really goofy family,” she said with a laugh. “Taylor, Charlie, and I would all talk in accents completely randomly to make each other laugh. To this day, if I call my little brother Charlie, it’s guaranteed he's going to pick up the phone in an accent that is not American.”

Later Yancey attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art which exposed her to a wide variety of vocal nuisances.

“I got to act with people from Australia and New Zealand and soaked up those dialects,” she said. “One of the courses you take is entirely about speech and the mechanics of how we use diction.

“I struggle with a German dialect the most because it has some similar sounds to French and I find myself slipping into a French accent.”  

Growing up as part of a Naval family, Yancey was exposed to many different cultures in the United States with ports of call in Florida, North Carolina, Maine, California, Washington State, and Massachusetts.

 The one thing that kept her grounded was theater.

“Every time you enter a new community, you learn about people quickly,” she said. “Theater itself was such a huge gift. Every time you were in a show, you all made an agreement: We know this is going to be fast. This is going to come to an end at a certain point. But we are going to come together and tell a story.

“Theater was a huge gift; it gave me a sense of home.”

Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.jpg


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