On a dark and stormy night, the iconic murder mystery of Boddy Manor will take the stage in Athens.
For two weekends, Oct. 8-10 and Oct. 15-17, the Ohio Valley Summer Theater, or OVST, will host CLUE: On Stage, a stage adaptation of the 1985 hit comedy film. The screenplay is a story based on the classic board game that features various eccentric characters who must solve a murder mystery which happens during a very eventful dinner party.
The whodunnit classic takes a new form in Athens, where it will be held at ARTS/West, 132 W. State St. OVST, which just recently celebrated its 70th anniversary, will host the production as its first celebratory fall event. There will be various tables set up for early patrons to play the classic board game. Admission for the event is $10 for students and $12 for general admission.
Dayton Willison, director of the show, said this production is the first fall production OVST has ever done. When the production team was considering what possible show to put on around Halloween, Willison said Clue felt like an ideal match.
“They wanted to do at least a small show before the end of 2021, and they were looking at the fall, and with Clue being what Clue is, it's very much a whodunit murder mystery based on the famous board game,” Willison said. “And we're doing it in October, which is the spooky season. I think it just all seems like a perfect fit and the perfect storm.”
Christopher Parsons, executive director of OVST, said the script will essentially uphold the film’s version, with some room for creativity and interpretation in between.
“The way it's written — it's basically the movie, just adapted for the stage,” Parsons said. “And there aren't any major changes. It's fast and funny, and we have a full score orchestration that goes along with it.”
A unique element of the show, Willison said, will be the setting structure. When the audience arrives, it will be fully immersed in the Clue experience, as the entirety of the ARTS/West space will be transformed into the iconic mansion setting.
“We're doing something completely different (by) doing immersive theater,” Willison said. “The entire sanctuary of ARTS/West’s upstairs area with the stage, we're using the entire area as Boddy Manor, so the audience is literally sitting in the middle of Boddy Manor. So, we have the dining room table in the middle of the room, and then the audience is seated in aisle seating on both sides. Then, we're using all of the doors around the entire space, and we're using the stage as well. So, we're literally throwing them in the middle of Clue.”
Lee Carter, an actor for the show who will be playing Mrs. Peacock, said the immersive nature of the show will enable audience members to feel more connected to the plot and the characters.
“The people will feel as if they're a part of it, not just watching the show because we'll be moving around them,” Carter said. “And just like with the board game, there are rooms throughout. And so it will make you really feel like you're a part of the game in a way.”
Carter said she has performed with OVST since 2011, partaking in summer performances with her family each year. While there have been many roles she has played, Carter said she has enjoyed portraying Mrs. Peacock for the chaotic energy she exudes.
“She is slightly neurotic,” Carter said. “So, she's a very fun, easy character to play because she can be just kind of zany, and she has these little moments where the veneer cracks basically because, of course, she's a senator's wife. So, she has this outward appearance. And then you catch these glimpses, especially as the show gets crazier and crazier, of her own little bits of lunacy.”
While there will still be health restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parsons hopes the audience will be excited to return for an in-person show.
“I'm excited that we're just presenting something live on its feet and in person,” Parsons said. “And, hopefully, the audience will feel like they get to be immersed in the environment and be a part of it because they'll be sitting right there with all the actors.”
While the tone of Clue is still rather comedic, Carter said it is a perfect show to attend during the Halloween season for a mix of suspense and entertainment.
“I think people should definitely come see the show,” Carter said. “It’s a wonderful way to spend an evening especially in October because I know all the haunted attractions are going to be going on, and if that's not quite your thing, but you still want a little bit of spooky fun, I think that Clue’s the perfect thing.”