The Manitowoc Masquers theater troupe stage Clue at the Capitol Civic Center

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MANITOWOC – Colonel Mustard killed Miss Scarlet with the lead pipe in the pool hall.

This line is from a game, the indisputable game of murder mystery – Clue.

Nostalgic. Iconic. It’s a game and a franchise, loved by millions.

Manitowoc community theater group The Masquers will bring some of that nostalgia to the Capitol Civic Center with their production “Clue: On Stage.” Performances are May 12-14.

Birth of a cult classic

In 1943, the creation of one of the world’s most beloved board games came from an English musician and factory worker.

In Birmingham, England, while locked in his home as air raids threatened the city, Anthony E. Pratt and his wife, Elva, killed boredom with a fun little game they created.

Thus, the British game Cluedo was born (renamed Clue for the American market).

For decades, this fun murder mystery game has become a staple in millions of homes around the world.

Its popularity was so vast that Paramount Pictures based a movie on the board game, creating another medium for Clue fans to adore.

The 1985 film, directed and written by Jonathan Lynn and starring Tim Curry, has since garnered a considerable cult following.

And now The Masquers hopes to entertain you with a new medium to enjoy the beloved classic – the stage.

A long way to the stage

The iconic cult classic will take to the Capitol Civic Center stage under the seasoned direction of returning Masquers director Claran LaViolette.

For LaViolette, being able to direct this production was a dream show on the “to do list” that almost didn’t see the light of day.

After surviving a rigorous selection process, Clue was first slated for the 89th season of The Masquers.

Although The Masquers were set to produce the show, production rights were not available to community theaters at this time.

The play was later moved to the Masquers’ 90th season.

Then COVID-19 arrived. Theaters have closed. Clue was reluctantly postponed, yet again.

And now, finally, the Masquers and LaViolette’s dream of putting on this fun little murder show is coming true.

A “simple but complicated” show

LaViolette’s desire to direct the production came from her love of the 1985 film.

“It’s a movie you can watch 10 times and see something different each time,” she said. “The characters have become iconic. They’re so quirky and outrageous and fun. They’re outrageously ridiculous. This show is simple, yet complicated, and that makes it fun.

The comedy of the show is a big draw for the cast members. Many of them were eager to tap into their comedic side.

Tim Brey, who plays Wadsworth, was thrilled to tackle the role and polish its more comedic elements.

“The variety of characters and the variety of comedy,” Brey said of what drew him to the show, “along with the writing and the dialogue, it’s a real mix of humor and fun. “

The de Brey comedian was also fascinated by how a board game could become a play.

“It’s a bit clever and it’s not an easy thing to do,” he said.

Local comedian Kathy Kowalski jumped at the chance to be part of the production and gladly accepted the role of Mrs. Peacock.

“Who wouldn’t want to be part of this show? I love my comedies,” she said. “I wanted to be Miss Scarlet,” the comedian joked, “but the dress didn’t fit!”

However, Clue is more than just a comedy. Clue has been a household name for over 70 years, passed down from generation to generation, resulting in a film that also stands the test of time.

The question is, why?

“The themes are really classic: death, murder. It has everything that spans the decades. Black Widows… all the themes are there,” said Darcy Gravelle, who plays Mrs. White, with a chuckle and a twinkle in her eye.

“Everybody Loves a Good Mystery”

The cast of the show Clue des Masques.  Pictured from row left to right: Kathy Kowalski as Mrs. Peacock and Darcy Gravelle as Mrs. White.  And back row, from left: Tim Brey as Wadsworth, Patrick Schamburek as Colonel Mustard, Warren Schmidt as Mr. Green, Corrie Skubal as Miss Scarlet, Paul Hacker as Professor Plum and Bruce Bitter as Mr. Boddy.

For some actors, it’s all about nostalgia.

Asked about the show’s appeal, Corrie Skubal, playing the glittering woman in red, Miss Scarlet, replied, “Everyone loves a good mystery. … I loved the game when I was a kid. I always asked my parents to play all the time. I loved being the detective and figuring things out.

When asked what she hopes audiences will take away from the production, she replied with a smile, “I hope it brings back fond memories of their childhood as well.”

Besides the promise of great comedy, mystery and nostalgia, Clue has yet another trick up its sleeve. The set is “a character in its own right”.

Upon accepting the role of director, the set was the part of the production that LaViolette feared the most.

Creating a mansion with different rooms that need to change in the blink of an eye is no small feat; the challenge was monumental.

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And the scenographer Warren Schmidt answered the call of the challenge: “It’s a huge beast. From the first time I read the script, the setting is supposed to shift and change. Nobody made this show the way it’s written in the script. People will be amazed. It’s a living, breathing thing…it’s like the game. Secret passages, doors and walls change in ways you wouldn’t have imagined, and the real challenge was getting all the components to work mobile while maintaining the stability of the whole. I hope we get through this!”

Clue has a bit of everything for everyone. A little mystery, a little comedy, a little murder, lots of nostalgia and a “living, breathing” package that is sure to impress.

Come laugh. Come detective. Whatever tickles your fancy, you’ll find it in this production.

“I want audiences to walk away with side pains and sore cheeks from laughter,” LaViolette said. “It’s a hilarious show, and my cast couldn’t be better. They really bring these characters to life.

Clue is sure to be a wild ride.

If you are going to …

Logo for the Masquers Clue show

What: The Masquers, Inc., presents Clue, adapted from the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn, written by Sandy Rustin, adapted from the Paramount Pictures film written by Jonathan Lynn and the board game from Hasbro, Inc.

When: 7:30 p.m. from May 12 to 14

Or: Capitol Civic Center, 913 S. Eighth St., Manitowoc

Tickets: Are available at the Capitol Civic Center box office, online at cccshows.org or by calling 920-683-2184. Tickets are $23 for adults and $15 for students 18 and under

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