Little Theatre Comes Back Strong with Their Production of “Clue”
By Brianna Propis
A board game first patented in 1949, an iconic film based off of the game released in 1985 and a play based off of the film published not too long after: “Clue” has been ingrained into popular culture for an impressive amount of years, and it has certainly collected a cult following in the process.
Taking place over the course of one long and irrefutably eventful eve, “Clue” brings together a group of hilariously suspicious guests for a dinner party inside of the chilling Boddy Manor. Full of menacing servants and hidden weapons and charming puns, “Clue” will leave audiences laughing and guessing until the final moments– – and Little Theatre is ready to tackle the madness.
“The plot of ‘Clue’ definitely keeps you on your toes. It’s full of misdirections and funny jokes, and basically a murder-mystery/whodunnit? with elements of comedy sprinkled in,” explained freshman Matt Robertson, who plays Colonel Mustard. “The tension builds to a certain point, and then there are breaks with jokes or innuendos to lessen the intensity. I think it’s really fast-paced and keeps you guessing what’ll happen next.”
Robertson isn’t unfamiliar with the art of performing, having partaken in theatre since fourth grade, though “Clue” marks his first experience in the realm of Canisius theatre.
“When I walked into auditions, I saw that this cast was tight. When I got the part, I realized that even more, and now being a part of it and having experienced it for almost a month, I’ve seen firsthand that everybody is really loving and kind and accepting, and I felt right at home,” Robertson said. “I’ve always said that theatre is a family, which especially goes for this cast because they’re more like family than anything.”
Robertson’s experience with the show’s cast and directors made for quite a memorable time, which he feels will be palpable in the performances themselves.
“It’s very impressive that it’s all put together by students,” Robertson said. “Our directors did an amazing job guiding the process, and I feel like everybody in the cast has done a really great job with their roles. My favorite part of the rehearsal process was the moments when somebody had an idea for their character or an improvised line and it just made everybody else crack up. Those moments you live for. Everybody in theatre loves performing and loves feeling the applause of the audience, but rehearsals are where the bonding happens and where the memories that people who aren’t in theatre don’t really get to see and experience.”
The process of curating such a wonderful experience — and helming a rather challenging show — was carried out by co-directors Mary Banks, Little Theatre’s vice president, and Madeline Rehm, Little Theatre’s secretary. The process was one that was over a year in the making, nonetheless.
“When COVID first happened, our club did a virtual read-through of ‘Clue’ and everyone really enjoyed it,” Rehm explained. “During our year of ‘COVID Theatre,’ we kept tossing around the idea of doing ‘Clue.’ But it wasn’t until Mary and I co-stage-managed Little Theatre’s first show of the year last fall where we discovered we work insanely well as a team. We thought we should co-direct one of the shows the following year but weren’t sure which one: a few months later we decided to finally toss ‘Clue’ back into the ring.”
Given the nature of the talent and undeniable chemistry within the cast — as well as the amount of Little Theatre newbies involved — it seems that “Clue” being brought to life at this moment in time was fateful.
“Usually our club has a couple — say three or four — newcomers that will stay indefinitely, but this year 26 people auditioned for the show, which is unprecedented compared to numbers we’ve previously had,” admitted Rehm. “Mary and I were fully prepared — if it came to it — to not cast any of our friends, or any people we knew, if we thought that new people would do better. We did cast a couple of our friends that we know and love in the show, but we also have so many new people and I think that’s really exciting. I’ve never been one to be quick at making friends, but I’ve grown attached to all the new people I’ve cast extremely quickly. I already consider some of them as my closest friends, and it’s only been a few weeks! So I can only imagine what it’s going to be like from here on out.”
Another notable aspect of “Clue,” in addition to a necessary camaraderie amongst the cast, is the set — and an elaborate and certainly complex one at that.
“This is the first time we’ve done a show without an official tech director or designated adult to help us with building,” said co-director Mary Banks. “However, one of the many beautiful things about this club is that we have a lot of people who simply know how to do all kinds of things and stepped up in that way to help us build the set. Even people who had never picked up a drill before or used a screwdriver before were more than eager to contribute, which is another thing I really love about Little Theatre: everybody here is always willing to jump in and learn how to do something. Delegating tasks was never an issue, and we really killed the set. I’m very happy with it.”
Banks has stage managed multiple shows in Little Theatre, and Rehm has acted in six, but “Clue” marks both of their directorial debuts, as well as Little Theatre’s return to welcoming a live audience into the Marie Maday Theatre for the first time since February 2020.
“Last year we were one of the only clubs that continued activity through COVID,” said Banks. “Maybe we took it for granted a bit, because we came back with the same mindset as last year, but we’re not doing the same thing as last year at all. We are back at full capacity: we’re going to have an audience and there’s no stopping to refilm a scene if someone messes up, so we are coming back at it with guns ablazing. I’m very grateful for that, and I’m grateful Madeline and I got the opportunity to headline that entire process. Our club is coming back with a student-directed show — an ambitious student-directed show — and I’m really thankful and proud of all the people who stepped up, gave it their all and came in ready to give 110 percent — no questions asked. Knowing we’re going to have a live audience again enhances the process.”
Thus, with a group of actors possessing an organic rapport with each other, a set that was as difficult as it was ultimately rewarding to build together and the excitement amplified by a long-awaited return to laughter, gasps and applause, Little Theatre is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to welcome guests into their diligently created Boddy Manor.
“I think we’re going to knock it out of the park,” Banks said. “I am so proud of everybody and so happy with how it’s going. Every time we watch the show, we’re just blown away. Working with Madeline, it’s more than a pleasure. I’ll probably never experience a partnership in my life that’s this great again. Everyday I sit in the audience amazed by the levels of talent and commitment that people bring to the stage, regardless if we’re having bad days or good days. I really think that I’m going to be in tears in the back corner when this finally takes off.”
Performances of “Clue” will be taking place Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. in the Marie Maday Theatre, as well as Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Admission is free. A recording of the performance will be available virtually on Oct. 15 and 16.