clue 3

Starring in Theatre Baton Rouge's production of 'Clue' are, seated from left, Bill Corcoran as Col. Mustard, Kaitlyn Stockwell as Mrs. Peacock and Jenny Ballard as Mrs. White, and, standing, Marion Bienvenu Mayfield as Miss Scarlet, Ren Price as Mr. Green and Brandon Smith as Professor Plum.

The real test to watching Theatre Baton Rouge's production of "Clue" will be trying to apply your detective skills between the laughs.

And there will be plenty of laughs when the theater kicks off its 76th season with the whodunit on Aug. 20.

"It's definitely a fast-paced comedy," director Lily McGill said. "It's like a farce. We were planning to open our 75th season with it in 2020 before COVID shut it down, so we decided to open our new season with it because it's universally popular."

The play is based on the 1985 film, which was based on the board game introduced by Parker Brothers in 1949.

Hasbro now distributes the game, where players choose game pieces named for possible murder suspects, then work through clues to discover the who, what, when and where of the crime.

Unlike the game, which produces different endings, the play has only one conclusion, which is helped along the way by a butler named Wadsworth, played by Brandon Guillory.

"Wadsworth isn't in the game, but he talks to the audience along the way," Guillory said. "He's played by Tim Curry in the movie."

But Guillory doesn't mimic Curry's smarmy style. McGill instructed the cast not to base their characters on the movie's characters.

That order created a challenge for Jenny Ballard, the theater's managing artistic director who tackles the role of Mrs. White, a character portrayed by late comic actress Madeline Kahn in the movie.

"People who know the movie are going to expect to see versions of the characters they know," Ballard said. "I've seen the movie 20 times, and Madeline Kahn's performance is one of the most iconic. I had to make Mrs. White darker and more ridiculous while trying to tip my hat to Madeline Kahn."

The tale begins at a remote mansion in 1954, where six mysterious guests assemble for an unusual dinner party. Everyone becomes a suspect when the host turns up dead.

Wadsworth guides the story while the characters race to find the killer as the body count stacks up. Gathering with Mrs. White are Miss Scarlett, played by Marion Bienvenu Mayfield; Professor Plum, played by Brandon Smith; Mr. Green, played by Ren Price; Mrs. Peacock, played by Kaitlyn Stockwell; and Colonel Mustard, played by Bill Corcoran.

Theatre Baton Rouge currently is limiting audiences. Masks are required, regardless of vaccination status. The theater staff will conduct deep cleanings with medical-grade cleaning products between each performance.

The show runs through Aug. 29. Tickets are $30; $25 for students. Call (225) 924-6496 or visit theatrebr.org.


Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com