“Clue” at Viewpoint Theatre (Hmm Cast): A Very Late Review

Clue at Viewpoint Theatre (Hmm Cast): A Very Late Review

Naomi Engle, Staff Writer

Most people have heard of Clue, Hasbro’s murder mystery board game. Many have seen the successful 1985 movie by the same name. Then there’s the critically-panned 1997 musical, a case best left unsolved. So when Viewpoint Theatre ran their own play production from November 18th to the 20th, I went in with no idea of which end of the spectrum to expect. However, despite some dated jokes, Clue lives up to its reputation as a modern favorite even in play form, combining the hilarity of family game night with the cinematic suspense of a movie.

Set in the Cold War, Clue centers around a set of amoral guests who arrive at the elusive Mr. Boddy’s manor. They’re each named after a color (corresponding to their original game pawn color) and are victims of blackmail for a secret they’d kill to keep hidden. After Mr. Boddy invites them to dine, it’s a classic whodunnit as the guests race about the house, both trying to find the killer(s) and cover their tracks before the police arrive. But the story might not be as simple as it seems.

Viewpoint’s production was put together in just over two months, under the guiding hand of director Scott Feldsher. Mr. Feldsher was sick during the last week of rehearsals, which he directed over Zoom. He was also assisted by Emily Hucal, Viewpoint’s new stage manager, who managed rehearsals in-person.

The directors oversaw two casts, a Viewpoint first, in order to accommodate more student actors. The casts, code-named “Hmm” and “What”, alternated shows. I only saw the “Hmm” cast due to a scheduling conflict, but I had a glimpse of the “What” cast when they previewed at assembly and can attest that they put on a wonderful show.

You’d think two casts would be enough to juggle, but Clue didn’t stop there. The show featured two rotating platforms on either side of the stage which concealed more “rooms” of the house, as well as moveable ones for the kitchen, library, and billiards room. A demanding setup, even for the CFT, the transitions between rooms were pulled off smoothly, in part from the 10 stage hands who were onstage just as much as the actors. From chandelier drops to sliding trapdoors, the set was constantly moving.

From left to right: Avrick Altmann (‘24), Violet Kaltman (‘24), Sienna Ching (‘25), Clement Xiang (‘23), Laurel Eith (‘24), Jessica Cao (‘24) // Photo credit: The Patriot

With the many scene changes between rooms and the frenzied tone, the show needed actors who could set the fast pace. A.J. Williams (‘23) certainly delivered as butler Wadsworth. Fresh off of playing Prince Charming in last spring’s Cinderella, the senior gave every scene life with his charming accent and buoyant energy. In the final scene, the crowd saw him bound across every corner of the stage, slide across the floor, pantomime the night’s previous events, gag and groan his dying words, and finally collapse in front of an already-applauding crowd in what was the most elaborate game of charades I’ve seen on Viewpoint’s stage.

Williams’ wig, barely holding on throughout the entire show, had fallen off at some point, releasing an energy that had seemingly been held back by dozens of bobby pins. Jessica Cao (‘24), who played the sultry Miss Scarlett, said that she was “so close to breaking character” because her wig began to fall off as well. Williams says that the wig disaster was “unavoidable” in rehearsals as well. “It’s never not fallen off. I made it part of the show,” he told the Patriot, adding that the wigs were “too small” for everyone. Regardless, I truly believe that the sheer liveliness of his monologue knocked them off.

Wigs aside, I loved the entire show. The fast pacing made me apprehensive of a superficial ride, but the mystery kept the audience so engrossed that time seemed to vanish. You’d think watching a bunch of unsuspecting visitors being killed off in the same manner for ten minutes straight would feel repetitive, or watching the same arrest scene replayed out for ten minutes straight would get old, yet somehow, it didn’t. Every cast member filled those precious minutes with punchlines that offered up a blend of high-energy comedy and political satire.

In contrast to Williams’ buoyant fervor as Wadsworth, Violet Kaltman (‘24) turned on the comedy as the shrill drunkard, Mrs. Peacock.  Onstage, she slung around dead bodies like sandbags and staggered in circles behind her fellow actors.  “I almost feel dizzy,” laughed Kaltman after opening night.  Kaltman became sick with a cold just before tech week.  She told the Patriot she attended rehearsals when she could and got notes from “What” cast’s Mrs. Peacock, Emily Lawson (‘23), to keep up.  Kaltman was still under the weather on the 19th’s opening night, but she put on a fantastic performance nonetheless.  “Honestly being sick kinda helped, because Mrs. Peacock is like this bumbling idiot.  She doesn’t know what she’s doing, and when you’re sick you’re kind of out of it, so it worked out perfectly.”

Cast-run Tiktok and Instagram accounts under the handle @vpcluesblues helped promote the show, amassing 72 followers in total.  On the accounts were memes, behind-the-scenes, and videos of the cast having fun.  The creation of show-themed inside jokes is a staple of every Viewpoint production, but the use of public accounts to share these traditions is very new.  They offered an engaging way to promote the show and provided parents and friends alike something to look forward to on opening night.  “We’ll definitely keep [these accounts] up even though the production is over and use [them] for future Viewpoint musicals and plays,” said Cao, who was one of many cast members running the accounts.  

And so, Viewpoint Theatre’s dedication to the arts continues.  The school year will conclude with a spring production of the musical Grease, hopefully with fewer wig mishaps.  Or quite possibly more–it adds a certain excitement.