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Broadway Palm’s ‘Clue the Musical’ pure entertainment


Clue Musical Promo Photo FBorn during Halley’s Comet’s fly by in 1835, Mark Twain somberly predicted he’d go out with the comet when it returned 76 years later. Abraham Lincoln dreamed a few days before going to Ford’s Theater that he’d walked into the East Room of the White House and found a corpse surrounded by soldiers and Clue Musical Promo Photo Dmourners. More than 20 years before he boarded the Titanic, tabloid pioneer William Thomas Stead wrote two fictional stories in which numerous passengers drowned after their England-to-New-York ocean liner collided with an iceberg and there weren’t enough lifeboats to save their lives.

Over the years, many a celeb, politician and business mogul Clue Musical Promo Photo 02have had premonitions of their impending death, but none has been so downright giddy about it as the rhyming host of Boddy Manor in Broadway Palm’s production of Clue the Musical. The show opened May 18 and runs through June 24 on the theater’s main stage.

You don’t have to be a board game aficionado to enjoy this sprightly show. Thanks to an imaginative book by Peter DiPietro and catchy tunes replete with witty lyrics by Galen Blum, Wayne Barker, Vinnie Martucci and Tom Chiodo, you will quickly Clue Musical Promo Photo Cbecome intrigued by the motives that blue-blood Mrs. Peacock, purple-passioned Mr. Plum, officious Colonel Mustard, shady Mr. Green, sultry Miss Scarlet and the farcically Cockneyed Mrs. White share for wanting Boddy dead. Of course, the object of the board game is to figure out who kills Mr. Boddy, in which room and with what weapon. And to make sure the audience engages, Boddy importunes Clue Musical Promo Photo 10and cajoles us at every turn to play along and win the game. Pencils and detective cards are provided to keep track of all the clues.

Normally, actors and directors go to great lengths to keep up the pretense that what’s happening on stage is real. Because the Clue cast is actually breathing life into two-dimensional board game, they are free to engage the audience in asides, eye rolls and snappy repartee. For example, after sharing several scenes with saucy Miss Scarlet, Mr. Green looks into the audience and muses “it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas,” before adding “Good, ya got that,” when he hears a smattering of laughs and guffaws.

Theresa Walker is a hoot as Mrs. White, whose greasy, blood-smeared apron could use some quality White 1time with Mr. Clean. Her scene in Act Two when she gets all twisted up in an arm chair had the audience in stitches.

Jennifer Hope is wonderful as the philandering Mrs. Peacock, who is lining up the be-medaled Colonel Mustard as her sixth husband as soon as Boddy is out of the way. Her chilly rendition of “Once a Widow” is spellbinding. The story that emerges from her musical confession implies that the lady is less a beautiful peahen and more a deadly black widow on the order of Evelyn Dick or the Merry Widow of Windy Nook. But the randy colonel has more to worry about than his dalliance with Boddy’s wife. When accused of being a snake, he protests that nay, White 3he’s just a Democrat.

Craig Smith channels his best Don Corleone for his role as Mr. Boddy’s former business partner and slick, shady entrepreneur. His scenes with Miss Scarlet sizzle with sexual tension compliments of Katherine Walker Hill, who plays the latter role. With dialogue charged with innuendo and double entendre, Hill’s Scarlet is a fiery vixen accustomed to using her considerable female charm and other bodacious attributes to get her way. Let’s just say that Hill’s Miss Scarlet is the antithesis of Clue Musical Promo Photo 08the boringly wholesome Betty Haynes, who Hill convincingly played in Broadway Palm’s White Christmas earlier this season.

But Green and Scarlet don’t have a corner on sizzle and chemistry. Troy Bruchwalski’s Professor Plum and the musical’s Act Two Detective tear it up in “Seduction Deduction,” a sensuous duet that devolves into a glorious Paso Doble. Using the dance to induce the Detective not to view him as a suspect, Plum is nerdily pedantic and prideful while she strives to maintain a self-confident distance. But it’s not all Thoreau and book smarts for Bruchwalski’s Professor Plum. One of the funniest sequences in the show for season ticket holders has Plum laughing maniacally, Clue Musical Promo Photo 07conjuring mental comparisons to Bruchwalski’s title role in Yeston & Kopit’s Phantom two shows ago.

Sami Doherty plays the Detective. She’s so talented and such a good dancer that it’s almost a shame that she doesn’t make an appearance until Act Two of the play. Clue Promo 4But it’s a terrific role for her nonetheless because of how conflicted our Detective really is. When we first meet her, the Detective comes across as supremely self-assured. But beneath her smug, scathingly sarcastic and eminently hardboiled surface, she’s more Clouseau than Poirot or Sam Spade. While Plum may be enamored of her good looks and fluid moves, the rest of the suspects find her clueless. But in spite of her proclivity to spout mindless nursery rhymes, she does eventually solve the murder before taking her leave for some other, more rewarding board game. Sorry, that’s Life.

But make no mistake, it’s Boddy who’s the unmistakable star of this show, and Christopher Violett is sensational in the part. He possesses all of the charm of the Bachelorette’s Chris Harrison, and creates a comfortable, companionable rapport with the audience from the very first scene. His success with the role inheres in part because of his ability to alternatively tease and then chide both the suspects and the audience in a self-deprecating fashion that is thoroughly disarming. But it’s Violett’s enthusiasm and energy that you’ll remember long after the final bows.

Admittedly, there’s no big underlying theme, plot (although there are a few twists) or deep characterization to lift the eyebrow or furrow the forehead. But if you like a challenge and appreciate pure entertainment, there’s a lot to enjoy with this show.

May 21, 2017.




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