By Ivy Ridenhour, Freedom High School
It was Professor Plum in the Lounge with the gun, or maybe it was Colonel Mustard in the study with the wrench. “No! It happened like this”: it was Riverside High School in the auditorium with their thrilling production of Clue: on Stage.
Clue: on Stage is a comedic play written by Sandy Rustin. It’s inspired by the classic board game and based on the 1985 movie by Jonathan Lynn. One night in 1954, six strangers find themselves invited to a mysterious dinner party at Boddy Manor. Secrets are revealed, people are killed, and plenty of insanity ensues.
This insanity was led by Aaron Eichenlaub as Wadsworth. A posh accent and a condescending attitude made Eichenlaub a classic butler. In the final scene, Eichenlaub’s character evolved into a flurry of motion and imitation, jumping across the stage in excitement and falling to the floor in death. Another employee of Boddy Manor, Heather Stuart was “maid” to play Yvette. Throughout the show, Stuart could be found in the background cleaning, or dead on the couch. With an accent and high-pitched scream at the ready, Stuart added hilarity and life to the stage, even in death.
It wouldn’t be Clue without the regular suspects. Miss Scarlet was portrayed by Gabi David, who performed the role with all the attitude and presence expected of the iconic character. Colonel Mustard was played by Brady Rufo. With a consistent physicality and a boisterous character voice, Rufo’s portrayal of the Colonel was almost cartoonish. In every scene, whether Rufo was the focal point or backdrop, Mustard was animated and impossible to ignore. Mrs. Peacock was played by Snow Fox, whose one-liners and constant drinking brought the audience to laughter many times. Mr. Green was portrayed by Caden Barley, whose nervous voice and stiff body language made the reveal at the end all the more shocking. Completing the ensemble of socialites was Olivia Miniuk as Mrs. White and Alexander Footen as Professor Plum. Together, this ensemble solved the mystery of how to have good chaos on stage. Every panicked cacophony and mislaid plan seemed entirely natural. Every scene moved and fl
owed with effortless energy.
Seven of the characters may have been dead by the end of the show, but the stage was utterly alive at every moment. Thanks to the set team (led by Naina Sharma, Caden Barley and Sophia Coulopoulos) and props teams (led by Allison Parrish) the stage was full. There were paintings, table settings, bookshelves, and a chandelier. It wasn’t static either, the bookshelves spun to reveal an evidence board and the paintings revealed passageways and safes. Lighting (designed by Ryder Quiggle) also brought the stage to life. Color-coded lighting that matched each character heralded their arrival as the show began. Throughout the entire production, bright colors brought the stage to life and lightning strikes that sparked behind the audience brought them right into the story. A final stand-out was Ryan Sweeney on piano. Sweeney’s melodies added weight and atmosphere to each and every scene. Bringing it all together was the stage manager, Ben Gomez, and the technical Director, Marcely Villatoro. Every cue was snappy and synced with the action on stage. And the stage crew was near invisible as they moved set pieces on and off the stage.
With killer performances and tech that’s to die for, it’s no mystery how much effort and energy was put into Riverside High School’s production of Clue: on Stage.
[This review of the Nov. 6 performance of Clue: On Stage at Riverside High School is part of a series published in a partnership between Loudoun Now andThe Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theater and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders.]