The murder mystery at Oregon Cabaret Theatre is drop-dead funny
By Lee Juillerat for Ashland.news
I never played the board game and didn’t see the movie, so I didn’t have a clue of what to expect when I viewed the Oregon Cabaret Theatre’s production of “Clue.”
After two hours of hilarity, laugh-out-loud pandemonium and a cast of lovingly wacky characters in the as-promised “hilarious farce-meets-murder-mystery,” I was clued in.
“Clue,” the season-opening play at the Cabaret, is based on the 1985 Paramount movie that was inspired by the Parker Brothers board game, Clue.
No one will get board, or bored. It’s a lively frolicking, rollicking play that showcases an incredible cast, excellent staging, deftly coordinating stunts along with singing, dancing and shrill screams.
Plenty of weapons and suspects
“Clue” takes place at a remote mansion, where six guests are invited to a dinner party sponsored by an anonymous host.
As each arrives, they’re greeted by Wadsworth, the butler. None of the guests has a clue as to why they’ve been invited. All six, it’s revealed, is being blackmailed by the unseen host. Each is given an alias — Colonel Mustard, Mrs. White, Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet. Each is given a potential murder weapon — a candlestick, rope, gun, wrench, lead pipe and butcher knife — and each becomes a suspect when their host is found dead.
None of the half dozen have the detective skills of a Hercule Poirot or even Dick Tracy. Instead, all six exhibit traits resembling the Three Stooges times two, each with their own individual quirks. It’s a madcap ensemble of characters. Colonel Mustard can never catsup, er, catch up with what’s happening. The aptly named Miss Scarlett relies on her sensuality. Mr. Green is a stranger to himself. The five-times-widowed Mrs. White has a dark side. Professor Plum is an overripe, pipe-touting egotist. The prim Mrs. Peacock is easily ruffled.
Confusion and corpses abound
Adding to the confusion, and sometimes the body count, are a buxom maid, a cleaver-wielding cook, a stranded motorist and a suspicious policeman. There’s also a neck-twisting/flipping detective who variously identifies himself as Gil T. Verdict and Barry D. Hatchet. There are frightening blackouts, high-pitched screams, a slow-motion falling chandelier, water glasses placed against walls for eavesdropping, secret passageways, even sensual embraces with corpses. And, as the plot thickens, six dead bodies.
The story becomes secondary to the no-two-alike characters of talented actors: Louis Lotorto as Wadsworth, Rick Robinson as Colonel Mustard, Katie Worley Beck as Mrs. White, Livia Genise as Mrs. Peacock, Austin Miller as Mr. Green, Melinda Parrett as Miss Scarlet and Kat Lee as Yvette, along with Gwendolyn Duff, Preston Mead and Ernesto Rosales in multiple ensemble roles.
Directed by Alex Boyles, the Cabaret’s associate artistic director, “Clue” is fast-paced and dazzlingly well-coordinated with nonstop, wildly hilarious physical comedy. Adding to the production is the atmosphere and technical elements created by set designer Jason Bolen and choreography by Valerie Rachelle. The behind-the-stage team includes fight choreographer U. Jonathan Toppo, set designer Jason Bolen, lighting designer Evan Carbone, sound designer Kimberly O’Loughlin, props designer Jackie Perron, projection designer Michael Stanfill, costume designer Sara Brookes, and wig designer Virginia Carol Hudson. “Clue” is an incredible group effort.
Lotorto delivers again
While each cast member of the cast shines, Lotorto, who has twice previously starred at the Cabaret as the perceptive detective Poirot, is wildly zany in an unforgettable scene near the play’s end.
By the play’s end, even I was no longer Clueless.
Show times are 8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Matinees are 1 p.m. Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. “Clue” runs through Sunday, April 7.
Reservations are required for preshow dinner or brunch. Appetizers, cocktails, beverages, and desserts are available without reservations. Tickets range from $32 to $49. The Cabaret offers a 15% ticket discount for groups of 12 or more for select ticket types and performances. Student rush tickets cost $15 and can be purchased 30 minutes before curtain with a valid student ID, subject to availability.
Email freelance writer Lee Juillerat at email@example.com.
Feb. 9: Corrected name of the character played by Austin Miller.