Review: CLUE At The Gateway Playhouse

Sally Struthers stars in the production, running through April 16th.

By: Mar. 22, 2023
Review: CLUE At The Gateway Playhouse
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The tagline for the musical stage production of Clue - "A Hilarious Farce-Meets-Murder-Mystery" - is inarguably accurate as it relates to Long Island's regional premiere from The Gateway Playhouse. Based on Jonathan Lynn's 1985 cult classic screenplay, which was based on the popular Hasbro detective game, this adaptation is written by Sandy Rustin with additional material by Hunter Foster and Eric Price, and it brings new life to these infamous caricatures without sacrificing the utterly ridiculous, self-aware satire that makes Clue so iconic.

As the 1950s Washington-set story goes, six strangers are lured to a mansion one dark night by a threatening letter from an author who has been blackmailing them with their respective secrets. There's the house butler, Wadsworth (James Taylor Odom), who serves as the leader of the evening's events; Mrs. Peacock (Sally Struthers), the wacky wife of a senator; pervy therapist Professor Plum (John Long); clumsy and uneasy Mr. Green (David Engel) who thinks he is being blackmailed due to his homosexuality; Mrs. White (Jennifer Byrne), a widow with multiple divorces behind her; Miss Scarlett (Emily Brockway), a sultry escort; and the dunce Colonel Mustard (Christopher Seiler).

After Wadsworth assigns each character their respective pseudonym, he explains the situation and introduces them to their host and tormenter, Mr. Boddy of Boddy Manor where they are all gathered. Boddy arms each guest with a weapon and tries to turn them against Wadsworth, but with a flick of the lights, Boddy turns up dead. The pace of the show then picks up and a new mystery takes center stage as the guests team up with Wadsworth to identify the killer in their presence.

It takes a unique, unabashed level of hilarity to lower the stakes of a murder mystery to the point where the story is more rooted in comedy than horror or grief, and this show achieves that delivery of purely unserious amusement. While there are some political and social undertones, they're overshadowed by the quick-witted chaos and plethora of laugh-out-loud moments.

As an ensemble and individually, this cast nails the physical comedy necessary to do these characters justice without movie magic. Sometimes it's a relatively discrete facial expression or movement that quietly stands out, and other times it's completely absurd actions and vocal inflections, especially as the show becomes progressively over-the-top throughout its course.

Odom, for example, plays Wadsworth with an eeriness and unpredictability that would likely make Tim Curry proud. He goes on a journey from monotonous to outrageously dynamic, but he doesn't lose his command of anyone in the theater, on or off the stage. Struthers offers a new level of unhinged with Mrs. Peacock, babbling, stumbling and screaming as her short stature exudes a larger-than-life personality.

This show heavily depends on solid ensemble interaction, and this cast delivers as they maneuver through the show with intention behind every word, glare and step, which is elevated by the detailed, timely costuming by Chloe Mullin and scenic design by Kelly J. Tighe. Amidst all of the disarray, the actors manage to maintain the flow of the show as they travel from one scene (and setting) to the next.

In the world of Clue, the situation is a matter of life and death, but for everyone else (especially in the case of this production), it's unadulterated, extremely skilled and professional entertainment.




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