ELLSWORTH — “The premise of the game is simple,” says Mr. Boddy. A mansion, an elegant party and a dead host. Everybody has a motive and anybody could be guilty. That’s where it gets complicated.
“Every single show is different,” said Leslie Michaud, who is directing The Grand’s production of “CLUE: The Musical,” premiering June 21. “The cast learns 216 different possible shows.”
The musical is based on the British murder-mystery board game Cluedo (known as Clue in North America), in which players try to deduce who murdered Mr. Boddy, what weapon was used and where the murder took place.
“It’s a fully engaged experience,” said Michaud, who first saw the musical at The Grand in 2007 and jumped at the chance to direct the production.
“It was really fun with everybody whispering to each other,” she added, referring to the first time she saw the performance and the audience’s attempts to solve the crime.
“CLUE: The Musical” was first produced off-Broadway in the late 1990s. It never did make it onto the Broadway stage, which provided a bit of a challenge, said Michaud. “There was no Broadway cast recording, so we were literally learning the music as we went.”
All of the usual suspects are here: there’s Mrs. Peacock (“well-known, well-traveled and well-preserved”), Professor Plum (“born an intellectual”), a scorching Miss Scarlet and a disgruntled Col. Mustard. Titan of industry Mr. Green and bone-weary housekeeper Mrs. White round out the list.
The shenanigans begin with Mr. Boddy (presumably visiting from the grave), who invites an audience member to choose one card from each of three stacks to determine who is the murderer, what weapon was used and what room the deed was done in. Neither the cast nor the audience is privy to the cards, which are set aside.
Mr. Boddy continues to give hints throughout the night, while characters amble through the mansion, lamenting ruined fortunes, airing their grievances against the dead man and generally engaging in what Michaud refers to as “amorous malarkey.”
Audience members are given forms to fill out as they collect clues throughout the evening and in the second act, a hard-nosed detective arrives, the only one “qualified to unravel the merry mayhem,” according to a description on The Grand’s website.
“It’s a great family show for older kids,” said Michaud, generally those aged ten and older. “The audience participation is really fun. I love the humor. It’s light, perfect for a summer evening out.”
The cast has been rehearsing in three-hour stretches several times a week since mid-May, said Michaud. She has stayed true to the book and the lyrics, with few changes. “I think we’re really finding the funny,” Michaud added.
Eventually the suspect confesses, said Michaud, but that isn’t the end. “Not only is there a big surprise at the end but there’s a twist. It keeps unfolding with new unknowns.”
“Clue” will premiere at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 21. Music is directed by Gina Schuh-Turner. The production also will be staged at 2 and 7 p.m. on June 22, at 2 p.m. on June 23, 2 and 7 p.m. June 27, 7 p.m. June 28, 2 and 7 p.m. June 29 and at 2 p.m. on June 30.
Tickets are $20 for adults and seniors, $18 for Grand members, $12 for students (15 and under). To reserve seats, call 667-9500 or visit grandonline.org.