Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Laugh Your Way Through Familiar Clues at Coronado Playhouse

Photo courtesy of Ken Jacques, Coronado Playhouse

Let the guessing games begin at the newest production of Clue: Live On Stage performed by the outstanding cast of the Coronado Playhouse (CPH) through December 12. It’s fairly safe to assume that almost everyone played the well-known Clue board game growing up, so will be familiar with the plot of whodunit, where, and with what. As the story unfolds throughout the stormy evening, murder and mayhem ensue as the outstanding cast of characters discovers what they all have in common and of whom they should be wary. From the first scene to the last Isaac Brieske plays his part to perfection as Wadsworth, the mischievous and comedic butler who keeps the audience entertained throughout the caper. Brieske is pleased to be returning to CPH for his second production.

The trick to creating a large mansion on a small stage is the rolling doors used to simulate the various rooms. This stage adaptation is based on the original cult classic 1985 Paramount movie, which was inspired by the classic Hasbro board gameThe writers include Jonathan Lynn, who directed the original movie, Broadway star and director Hunter Foster, who directed the world premiere of Clue on Stage, Sandy Rustin, and Eric Price.

From the start, all the guests engage in their own way, as the actors bring their creative spin to their characters. You have to adore the religion toting, hilarious Mrs. Peacock, played by Tyler Richard Hewes. This is Hewes acting debut at CPH, having previously directed King Charles III* in 2017 here. The demure opposite is Mrs. White, played by Kira Blaskovich, dressed in all black, she stoically compares her five husbands to “Kleenex ~ soft, strong, and disposable.” Blaskovich has been in several other CPH productions and is enjoying working with this fun cast. In a contrasting role, the alluring Miss Scarlet is played by Heather B. Tjalma, who cunningly portrays the sexy siren. Tjalma is happy to be acting with friends in this CPH production and joined the CPH board in 2020.

Suave Professor Plum, played by Marc Caro, seems perfect for this dinner party of intriguing characters. Caro has appeared in numerous CPH productions and is a San Diego native actor and choreographer. Colonel Mustard, with his entertaining and boisterous outbursts, is played by Russell Clements, who has a long history with CPH and is excited to be back. You can’t forget Mr. Green, played by Fred Strack, who has a small role at the start, but then blossoms at the end, while revealing himself as an FBI agent. This is his first CPH performance.

The cook, played by Amy Dell, who does double duty as the singing telegram girl, is cheeky as she runs around with her cleaver. Dell has appeared in several other CPH productions and works as an attorney. The spunky French maid who comedically serves the guests, is played by Kathryn Schellinger. This is her first CPH performance.

You are sure to chuckle during the dinner scene, as the fun continues with the guests each using their own distinct way to slurp their soup. After the host, Mr. Boddy, played by Ryan Burtanog, appears, be sure and watch for him in other roles after his demise. Burtanog is excited to be returning to CPH.

Listening at the door to hopefully get a Clue. Photo courtesy of Ken Jacques, Coronado Playhouse

This cast definitely proves that murder can be funny, and the audience laughed throughout the show! Everyone is not as they appear, and you will discover why each of the quirky characters is being bribed, potentially giving them all a motive for murder. As the evening progresses, the murders keep coming, as the cast crazily runs from room to room through the rolling doorways.

In this fast-paced comedy, the group sets out to divide and conquer to locate the confidential envelope with all their blackmail secrets. It’s intriguing to try to guess who will turn up dead next. At one point, there are three murders in three minutes, and that’s not all the dastardly deeds. Wadsworth’s recap of all the guests and murders brought down the house, as the cast rewinds for each scenario. After the last twist is revealed, the final character dies with much ado, leaving you with all the answers to who did it, where and with what.

I was surprised to learn that the concept for Clue was developed more than 70 years ago, during WW II by a British musician and war munitions factory worker named Anthony Pratt, whose wife Elva turned it into a board game; and ultimately the couple didn’t receive much monetary compensation for the concept. Fun facts to note are that the original weapons Pratt envisioned were more gruesome — like an ax, a cudgel (stick), a small bomb, rope, a dagger, a revolver, a hypodermic needle, poison, and a fireplace poker. The rope, gun, and dagger made it to the final game, along with three new weapons: a candlestick, a wrench, and a lead pipe. Some of the names were changed, like Colonel Yellow became the Colonel Mustard we know today. If you haven’t played the game for a while, it was updated in 2008, with a new setting, character backgrounds, and weapons, but never fear the retro version still exist.

Kudos to award-winning stage and musical Director Desha Crownover, who currently serves as the Artistic Director of San Diego Junior Theatre, where she has taught and directed for the past twenty years. She is honored to be back at CPH, where she has directed SeussicalThe 39 StepsMacbeth, and The Old Man and the Old Moon. Huge credit also goes to the production, sound, lighting, stage, and set staff for helping create an outstanding ambiance.

The intimate, cabaret-style signature theater is the perfect venue for this entertaining play and CPH has creative details like magnifying glass centerpieces on the tables. Grab some friends and go see Clue: Live on Stage, the sixth and final show in the 75th anniversary of the CPH 2021 season, which runs through Sunday, December 12. More fun than a board game, shows start promptly at 8 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and 2 pm on Sundays. For guest safety, CPH has strict protocols in place requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID PCR test result, and all attendees are required to wear masks, when not eating and drinking during the performance.

For additional information and tickets, go to www.coronadoplayhouse.org or call 619-435-4856.

The final murder of “Clue”. Photo by Ken Jacques, Coronado Playhouse

For Bond lovers, don’t miss the brief engagement of James Bond:  The Musical, written and performed by Tom Steward on Friday, December 17 and Saturday, December 18, at 7 pm, and Sunday, December 18, at 2 pm. Guests will go on a journey through 25 Bond films from Connery to Craig. CPH is presenting this in conjunction with Lonesome Whistle Productions.

Check out the mission of CPH to give back to the community, their current focus is the San Diego Police Officers Association’s Widows & Orphans Fund. For more information, please visit www.sdpoa.org. The pandemic has been an especially challenging time for live performances, so there’s still time to help keep Coronado Playhouse, a San Diego tradition going for an additional 75 years and beyond, by donating to the $75 for 75 campaign at coronadoplayhouse.org/75for75/. Coronado Playhouse is the longest continuously running community theatre in San Diego County.

Plan now for the promising CPH 2022 season lineup includes:  The SpongeBob Musical, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, Ain’t Misbehavin’ ~ The Fats Waller Musical Show, The San Diego Premiere of Two Gentlemen Rock Verona, Hands on a Hard Body, and Big Fish, with tickets now available for existing subscribers and new subscriptions, and open to the general public on November 22.



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Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com
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