|Clue The Musical|
|Basis||The board game Clue|
Clue The Musical is a musical with a book by Peter DePietro, music by Galen Blum, Wayne Barker and Vinnie Martucci, and lyrics by Tom Chiodo, based on the board game Clue. The plot concerns a murder at a mansion, occupied by several suspects, that is solved by a detective; the ending is determined by cards drawn by audience members that select the murderer, murder weapon and location of the murder.
The piece has an interactive feature in which audience members randomly select cards that determine which suspect committed the murder, which weapon was used, and in what room the murder took place. Based on the cards drawn, the show has 216 possible endings, with some interchangeable dialogue between characters that is delivered as the story unfolds.
A film version of the game was released in 1985, followed by a UK television series in 1990. In 1993, DePietro and Chiodo wrote the musical. After tryouts in Baltimore in 1995 and Chicago in 1996, the musical ran Off-Broadway in 1997, receiving mostly unfavorable reviews. Nevertheless, it continues to be produced regularly by community theatre groups.
The musical premiered at the New Boston Street Dinner Theatre, in Baltimore, Maryland, from June 1995 through August 1995. Peter DePietro directed the production. The Baltimore Sun review stated: "The creators of Clue, the Musical have ... found a way to improve the game." It then ran at the Organic Theater, Chicago, in April 1996, again directed by DePietro.
Clue opened Off-Broadway at the Players Theater on December 3, 1997 and closed after 29 performances and 17 previews. The production was again directed and choreographed by DePietro, and the cast featured Denny Dillon (Detective), Robert Bartley (Mr. Boddy), Wysandria Woolsey (Mrs. Peacock), Ian Knauer (Professor Plum), Tiffany Taylor (Miss Scarlet), Michael Kostroff (Colonel Mustard), Daniel Leroy McDonald (Mrs. White) and Marc Rubman (Mr. Green). Reviews were mixed to unfavorable. The New York Times review asked,
[W]hy would you want to turn a board game into a musical? After all, the 1985 film version of Clue didn't exactly take the country by storm. ... There's very little plot to get involved in because the action has to fit every possible outcome. ... Nothing is really dreadful about Clue except the concept. ... The cast members are generally charming and have good voices, the choreography has moments of real humor, and the set is a pleasant cross between a three-dimensional game board and a freshly painted subway station."
The Times criticized the lyrics and dialogue, commenting that "numerous jokes fall flat. At one point, though, [the Detective] and Professor Plum have a very nice volley of literary quotes". The New York Daily News called it "excruciatingly unfunny" and quipped, "Inflicting such embarrassing material on a group of able-bodied actors and then supplying them with a variety of deadly weapons is a dangerous provocation. ... Making a musical from a board game is the kind of bizarre task that only a genius or a fool would undertake. And there is no sign of genius here. .... the songs are a dull pastiche of 1930s musicals".
- Act I
Mr. Boddy acts as host. He invites the audience to play "The Game" while introducing each of the other characters. He then brings three audience members onstage to choose one card each from one of three stacks, representing six suspects, six rooms and six weapons. These selected cards, unseen by the selectors, cast or the audience, are placed in an oversized envelope marked "Confidential", which is displayed on stage for the duration of the musical and opened to reveal the cards near the end. Mr. Boddy instructs the audience on how to play along. Between scenes throughout the musical, Mr. Boddy gives rhyming clues, which provide the audience with information they may jot down on a form supplied to them and use to solve the mystery.
In the kitchen, Mrs. White prepares dinner and argues with Mr. Boddy over her forced servitude to pay debts because Mr. Boddy once helped her son. She laments "Life Is a Bowl of Pits". In the billiard room, Mr. Green, a business partner, clashes with Mr. Boddy over missing funds. In the ballroom, Col. Mustard and Mrs. Peacock engage in an affair, and are then caught by Mr. Boddy. Over drinks in the lounge, Miss Scarlet and Mr. Green are revealed to have been business partners of Mr. Boddy and former lovers, and that Mr. Boddy double-crossed them both and unceremoniously dumped Miss Scarlet. They muse revenge and that "Everyday Devices" (such as a wrench and lead pipe) are dangerous when used for the wrong reasons. In the study, Prof. Plum recounts how Mr. Boddy ruined his family fortune to Mrs. White, while she tries to unsuccessfully flirt with him. In the conservatory, Mrs. Peacock plans to add Mr. Boddy to her growing list of dead husbands ("Once a Widow").
After dinner, Mr. Boddy invites his guests and staff to fulfill their destiny—to murder him. They search through "Corridor and Halls" for the right combination of suspect, room and weapon. Mr. Boddy is found dead ("The Murder"). The cause of Mr. Boddy's death is unknown ("After the Murder").
- Act II
Mr. Boddy miraculously revives as host and introduces a new character, a hard-nosed, attractive Detective. As she searches the mansion for clues, the suspects nervously speculate "She Hasn't Got a Clue".
She returns with six possible weapons – the wrench, candlestick, pipe, knife, revolver and rope – found in six rooms: lounge, kitchen, ballroom, conservatory, billiard room, and study. All of these have the suspects' fingerprints on them, which were made between 9pm and midnight, the later of which is the time of Boddy's murder. The suspects tell of their use of each weapon ("Everyday Devices"). The Detective questions Prof. Plum, who tries to seduce her ("Seduction Deduction"). After his attempts fail, she in turn interrogates Col Mustard, Mr. Green, and the three ladies, as each speculates that she is a "Foul-weather Friend".
As the Detective prepares to make her accusation, the Suspects cry "Don't Blame Me" and panic at "The Final Clue". She reveals the random killer, location and weapon as per the three cards drawn earlier, and the killer confesses. Then, it is revealed that the previously stated murderer was only an accomplice, and that the true murderer is Professor Plum. Plum is then revealed to be an imposter, the true Plum being disguised as a piano player in the orchestra.
The Suspects ponder life beyond the mansion, but are compelled by Mr. Boddy to repeat their fate and continue playing "The Game".
- Mr. Boddy – The charismatic host of the game, husband of Mrs. Peacock, and victim of the murder. He loves to crack a joke.
- Detective – Arrives to solve the mystery.
- Colonel Mustard – He fancies himself a triumphant war colonel and is having an affair with Mrs. Peacock. He is implicated in the death of Mr. Boddy's parents and was married to Mr. Boddy's mother after the death of her husband.
- Mr. Green – Con artist and entrepreneur, he is a former lover of Miss Scarlet and business partner of Mr. Boddy.
- Mrs. Peacock – Black widow, socialite and chair of Peacock Enterprises, married to Mr. Boddy and cheating with Col. Mustard. She was suspected in the murder of five previous husbands.
- Professor Plum – Super genius, author and imposter, his family fortune was ruined by Mr. Boddy.
- Miss Scarlet – A former Las Vegas lounge performer and former lover of Mr. Green. Shrewd.
- Mrs. White – Funloving chief domestic of Boddy Manor; played by a man in the tradition of English pantomime and music hall.
- Piano Player – The murderer.
Note: The characters' costume colors match their names.
Differences from the board game
The musical simplifies the setting by including only six rooms rather than nine. The Hall, Dining Room and Library are eliminated. The role of Mr. Boddy is expanded, and much of the action centers on motive rather than exclusively who, how and where the murder happened. A new character, the Detective, drives much of the action of the second half of the show. The characters, particularly Col. Mustard and Mr. Green, hew closer to the North American game versions of the characters rather than the British version. The North American title is used rather than the British title, "Cluedo".
- Dotson, Laura. "Audiences won't leave Clueless", Vox magazine, February 16, 2006, accessed January 23, 2013
- Rousuck, J. Wynn. "Musical 'Clue' makes good moves", The Baltimore Sun, June 30, 1995
- Bommer, Lawrence. "Clue The Board Game Now Clue The Musical ", ChicagoTribune.com, April 19, 1996
- Gutman, Les. "A CurtainUp Review: Clue: The Musical", Curtainup.com, December 4, 1997
- Gates, Anita. Theatre Review; Song and Soft-Shoe For an Old Gumshoe", The New York Times, December 4, 1997
- O'Toole, Fintan. "Murder Musical Hasn't Got a 'Clue'", New York Daily News, December 4, 1997, accessed December 17, 2012