“Clue” is a frenetic farce disguised as a whodunnit

Clue logo with outlines of the weapons used in the show
Clue at the Paper Mill Playhouse 2022

Like every good stage mystery, the ending of Clue cannot be revealed

Clue at the Paper Mill Playhouse
Clue at Paper Mill Playhouse; LEFT TO RIGHT: Hazel Anne Raymundo as Cook, Kathy Fitzgerald as Mrs. Peacock, Mark Price as Wadsworth, and Isabelle McCalla as Yvette; Photo by Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made.

What can I tell you about a murder mystery that will leave you laughing helplessly? Well, first, I could tell you that you should visit the restroom before taking your seat at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. Because unless you do, you’ll be in danger of wetting yourself from laughter during the fast-paced 90 minutes of this farcical version of the classic board game, based on the star-studded motion picture of the same name. Yes, live on stage, it’s Clue!

I could tell you that nobody is what he or she seems—not even the servants in Boddy Manor outside of Washington, DC, where the action takes place on an appropriately dark and stormy night in 1954. Six guests, each given colorful pseudonyms by their host, Mr. Boddy, are invited to a dinner party, where they find themselves trapped in the manor.

They soon learn that Mr. Boddy has been blackmailing each of them—and just what each piece of blackmail involves. A momentary loss of power provides the cover for Mr. Boddy to turn up dead—and the six guests and three servants of the manor are off on a hunt to find who murdered their host.

At this point, I’ll mention the outstanding cast of comedians who, under the direction of Casey Hushion, keep things lively using a vast store of familiar comic tropes (and a few cinematic effects that you wouldn’t expect on a stage). First, there are the six dinner guests:  John Treacy Egan (the malaprop-prone Colonel Mustard), Donna English (the “black widow” Mrs. White), Kathy Fitzgerald (the constantly soused Mrs. Peacock), Sarah Hollis (the seductive Miss Scarlet), Michael Kostroff (the disgraced physician Professor Plum), and Alex Mandell (the closeted Mr. Green). Then, the staff:  Isabelle McCalla (Yvette, the maid), Mark Price (Wadsworth, the butler), and Hazel Anne Raymundo (the cook). Graham Stevens plays the host, Mr. Boddy, with Kolby Kindle as an uneasy cop.

The cast of Clue leaning toward a door to listen
The cast of Clue at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made.

Finally, in this year of unsung pandemic heroes, let me mention the understudies, each of whom are covering multiple roles:  Pamela Bob, Jamie LaVerdiere, Alanna Saunders, and Jeff Skowron plus the aforementioned Mr. Stevens and Ms. Raymundo.

The marvel of this production is the Boddy Manor set. While the main view is of the great hall, all the other rooms in the mansion come swinging or sliding out from the sidewalls, like a lunatic architectural Advent calendar, with walls dropping down to create an upstairs hallway (where Mrs. White and Wadsworth perform a hilarious tango) and the dining room. And, like every good farce, there are a number of doors for running in and out of while racing to catch a murderer.

Kudos go to scenic designer Lee Savage for creating the playground that contains all this madness, as well as to costume designer Jen Caprio for coming up with designs that encapsulate the characters and their personalities.

Like every good stage mystery, the ending of Clue cannot be revealed. For that, you’ll have to head down to the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn and settle down in your comfy seat to try and figure out the solution of Clue! You’ll be glad you did… as long as you don’t die laughing, that is.

Clue is presented by the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn through February 20th. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 973-379-3636 or visit papermill.org. Proof of vaccination and photo ID must be presented to enter the building, and masks must be worn when inside.

Allen Neuner
Allen Neuner is the theater reviewer at Out in Jersey magazine. Jersey born and raised, Allen went to his first Broadway play in 1957 and has been deliriously in love with live theater ever since. Allen has been accepted into the American Theatre Critics Association, a professional organization of theatre journalists. He has been partnered to music reviewer Bill Realman Stella, with whom he is also deliriously in love, for over 20 years. They live in an over-cluttered house in Somerville.