Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Clue: The Musical
Musical Theatre Southwest
Review by Stephanie Hainsfurther


The Cast
Photo by Jason Ponic
The Parker Brothers' game of Clue might seem a flimsy frame on which to hang a musical comedy, but director Robb Anthony Sisneros and his accomplished cast at Musical Theatre Southwest have crafted a solid production. The usual suspects—and weapons and rooms—are here in full regalia, just oozing means, motive, and opportunity.

Ron Bronitsky is the lascivious Colonel Mustard and Mrs. Peacock's former lover. Lando Ruiz plays the shifty Mr. Green, Miss Scarlet's past comrade in harms. The pedantic Professor Plum is portrayed by Brian Clifton, in good voice and somehow imparting mystery and depth to his character. Each of the male actors admirably lives up to his role.

The ladies are magnificent: Miss Scarlet (Kristen Bowers), Mrs. Peacock (Laura Nuzum) and Mrs. White (Abigail Pestalozzi-Conley) come to life with their clever backstories and vivid personalities. Pestalozzi-Conley is an audience favorite, as the misused, griping housekeeper Mrs. White, in her MTS debut. Bowers, as the conniving grifter Miss Scarlet, boldly struts her stuff while looking and sounding a bit like Scarlett Johansson in the film Hail, Caesar!. Nuzum's confident air and sinuous walk support her character's claims to have married (and murdered?) five times.

Mrs. Peacock's sixth husband is Mr. Boddy, the murder victim and our narrator for the evening, aptly handled by Mark Pino. He has a grasp on the dark-but-fun tone of the production as he speaks gleefully of his upcoming murder and teases us with clues to whodunnit.

And there are clues galore, inviting the audience to solve the puzzle before the end of the game. At the outset, young onlookers were invited onto the game board to blindly choose a suspect, a weapon, and a room in which the deed is done. The envelope holding the "cards" is suspended above the stage. The randomness of the outcome means that the players, especially Mr. Boddy, must be flexible and shift their dialog to fit the solution, which they do without missing a beat.

Alissa Hall is the silent Game Assistant in act one and the voluble Detective in act two. Of course, there is no detective in Clue but you, so the other characters jibe that she must have wandered in from the game Sorry. The Detective does, however, tease out more clues. If you want to win the game and you are memory challenged, bring a notebook.

Singing voices throughout the cast are strong and pleasant, perhaps even stronger in ensemble. None of the songs or dances is memorable, but as a woman of a certain age I am partial to "Once a Widow." Each singer gets a solo and a duet to further his/her character development. When they sing together, you can still hear each one fighting for attention within a delightful harmony. Well done.

Outstanding stage crew are essential to this production. Lighting designer Chad Morgan has a few crucial lights-out moments and hits them just right. Costume designer Shannon Scheffler and wardrobe mistress Gayle Smart bestow upon each actor the colors and embellishments of his/her role. Set designers and builders Wendie and Mike Cutcher render the downsized game board and cleverly design the game dice as storage cubes on wheels to hide the props by Cherie O'Keefe and Vicki Singer. Their combined efforts make it a memorable production.

No deep philosophies. No gasp-inducing family secrets. It's just a game. Bring the kids.

Through May 1, 2016, MTS Center for Theatre, 6320B Domingo Rd. NE, (505) 265-9119, musicaltheatresw.com.


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