Jessica Speck likes to choose the plays that she directs from a rotation of comedy, Shakespeare, drama and murder mysteries. Her most recent selection as the Winston Churchill High School theater director will kill two of those birds with one stone, not to mention a whole host of the play’s characters.
“Basically every time the lights go down someone dies,” said senior Leeron Silberburg. He added that the lights will go down a lot.
Starting Thursday, Feb. 29, Churchill will perform a theatrical adaptation of the 1985 comedy “Clue: The Movie,” which starred Christopher Lloyd and Tim Curry. All of the characters from the classic Parker Brothers board game “Clue,” which inspired the film, are present.
As the play opens, Mr. Boddy (played by senior Vikrum Mathar) has invited several guests to his home for the weekend. They quickly begin to die one by one, and Boddy’s butler Mr. Wadsworth leads the way as the remaining guests, while dwindling in number, try to solve the mystery. Along the way they discover a blackmail plot, and as they run from scene to scene and murder site to murder site the characters begin to split apart at the seams, said Mathar.
The play will feature a different ending each night, said Speck.
“It’s a fast-paced, hysterical show,” said senior Talia Gottlieb, who plays Mrs. Peacock.
“It’s just fun,” said Silberburg, who plays Mrs. White.
“And then it all falls apart,” said senior Michael Butvinik, who plays Wadsworth.
ONE OF the interesting facets of the show is the way the characters in the play deviate from what the audience might expect from their memories of the board game, the actors said. That is also what made playing their characters interesting to the actors.
“Mrs. White doesn’t say much, but when she does it’s so creepy,” said Silberburg. “She’s a sociopath.”
“Mr. Plum is a pervert, so I don’t have to be inhibited in any way — I can be blatantly rude and obnoxious out there,” said senior Ben Hoffman, who plays Plum. “I think he has some security problems,” said Hoffman, which makes Plum a nuanced, intriguing character to play.
Butvinik’s character of Wadsworth is the stereotypical uptight butler at the beginning of the play, but he unravels as the play grows more and more frantic, Butvinik said.
“And hilarity ensues,” said Butvinik in his best British butler’s accent.
“CLUE” WILL be the last dramatic performance for the seniors, most of whom have been involved in theater all four of their years said Speck.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Gottlieb.
“They’re all very experienced and they love theater,” said Speck.
Speck said that 75 students — 25 more than usual — tried out for what are essentially 12 roles. Because so many of the students were talented, Speck took an understudy cast in addition to her leading actors for the first time in her seven years at Churchill.
“We had multiple kids that could play the parts and I wanted to create that opportunity for them,” Speck said.
Saturday’s matinee performance will be led by the understudy cast, Speck said.
Sophomore Alyssa Stein served as the costume mistress for the production, said Speck. Stein researched clothing from the 1950s and worked with each member of the cast to match their tastes to the costumes that she had in mind.
Speck said that the best part of the production is that it will be approachable for audiences of all ages.
“You don’t have to know the movie or the board game to get the show,” Speck said. “It’s absurd and I think it will be fun.”