BEMIDJI-Make sure your pencils are sharpened for the Paul Bunyan Playhouse production of "Clue the Musical," opening Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Chief Theater, as the entire audience will have the opportunity to participate in the infamous, who-done-it game.
Checking off dubious suspects, treacherous weapons and perilous murder sites from the comfort of their seats, with a few fortunate accessories-before-the-fact helping set the puzzle onstage, it may seem the conundrum is solved quickly and easily ... but like all great mysteries, there are always unexpected twists and turns.
"Clue the Musical," based on the book by Peter DePietro, with lyrics by Tom Chiodo and music by Galen Blum, Wayne Barker and Vinnie Martucci, brings to life the entertaining yet mildly menacing table-top board game, enjoyed by countless brave participants in a timeless diversion, as invented by Englishman Anthony E. Pratt in 1944. The game's purpose was to help take his countrymen's minds off the extended air raid drills while deep in underground bunkers during World War II, but, for this American player, one of the best parts of summers in the early 1970s was the opportunity to indulge in seemingly unlimited games of Clue when we grew tired of baseball played in the alley or hide-and-seek in the dark. We were obsessed with the seemingly endless possibilities and the exhilarating proximity, albeit on the kitchen or picnic table, of murder, mayhem and mystery. It was heady and harmless stuff, indeed.
Fast forward to 2018 and, as is often the case with great inventiveness, success may be replicated in sequels or revived in various forms. Luckily for the Paul Bunyan Playhouse audience members, this is the case with "Clue the Musical" and, again, luckily for us, it is as daring and bold onstage as it is in its original presentation. Given this difficult challenge, the impressive creative team of director Jim Williams, musical director Dan Will (who gives the audience so much more than sweet melodies) on keyboard and accompanied by Greg Gaston on percussion, choreographer Danielle Ricci, stage manager Shelley Gorak, scene designer Phillip Hoks, costume designer Marilyn Hood, lighting designer Grant E. Merges, tech director Ryan Zako and sound technician Lyndsey Valentin, succeed splendidly.
Tasked with the job of breathing life into the cardboard and plastic characters from the board game, already convincingly created in the minds of millions, the sublime cast featuring Daniel PaulJohn Lane as the ebullient yet soon to be deceased Mr. Boddy; Nicole Korbisch as the glittering Mrs. Peacock; Cale Rausch as the patronizing Professor Plum; Hannah Stibbe as the stunning Miss Scarlet; Geoff Stephenson as the masterful Colonel Mustard; Debbie Jones as the wacky Mrs. White; Noah Vesey as slimy Mr. Green and last but most certainly not least, Amy Osatinski as the determined Detective, fulfills every exuberant expectation and then some. Their interpretations are impeccable and the creative team's support is quite evident in each detail.
The Paul Bunyan Playhouse production of "Clue the Musical" run Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a 2 p.m. Sunday, July 8, matinee; another 2 p.m. matinee Wednesday, July 11, with evening shows at 7:30 Thursday through Saturday, July 14. There are two acts with a 15-minute intermission. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 218-751-7270 or online at www.thechieftheater.com/tickets.html. General admission is $25, matinee $20, student $15. "Steel Magnolias" will open July 20, running through Aug. 28 with the grand finale production, "Hairspray," on stage Aug. 1-Aug. 11
This production is underwritten by Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and the North Central Door Co.
IF YOU GO:
What: "Clue the Musical"
Where: Chief Theater, 314 Beltrami Ave., downtown Bemidji.
When: Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., 2 p.m. Sunday; 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 11; 7:30 p.m. shows Thursday-Saturday next week.
Tickets: General admission is $25, matinee $20, student $15; (218) (218) 751-7270 or online at www.thechieftheater.com/tickets.html.
Up next: "Steel Magnolias," July 20.