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‘Clue,’ the musical, puts murder on stage

December 8, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ If comic strip characters can come alive on stage, why not the characters in a board game?

The victim, suspects and a detective from ``Clue,″ the game, are now treading the boards as ``Clue,″ the musical, at the off-Broadway Players Theater.

It’s fun _ mild, not extravagant fun. Like board games, it’s peppy enough to divert but not so exhilarating that it would raise anyone’s blood pressure.

Costumes keep the stage bright. Suspects wear the brightest shades and shoes of their names. The detective declares, ``Costumes by Crayola.″

Mrs. Peacock, whose five husbands have died mysteriously, is married to Mr. Boddy, who is the body and narrator, both before and after his demise.

Col. Mustard cares about Mrs. Peacock. Mr. Green cares about wild money-making deals, like coating the pyramids with vinyl siding.

All have reason to wish Mr. Boddy dead. So do Miss Scarlet, Prof. Plum and Mrs. White, the housekeeper, played by Daniel Leroy McDonald.

Three audience volunteers choose cards naming one of the six as murderer, one of six weapons as the fatal device and one of six rooms as the crime scene. Audience members, minds stuffed with bewildering clues and red herrings by Mr. Boddy, vote for the three answers at the end.

But it doesn’t matter. One clue, plain as a pikestaff and easily ignored, insures that ``Clue″ doesn’t have to change a sentence or a song to reach its solution.

The best thing for a viewer to do is relax and be mentally clueless.

The best-known actor in the game is Denny Dillon as the short, feisty detective, who has a nursery rhyme for every insight. Others stylishly skulking around are Robert Bartley, Wysandria Woolsey, Ian Knauer, Tiffany Taylor, Michael Kostroff and Marc Rubman.

Peter DePietro wrote the book, directed and created some tricky choreography. Galen Blum, Wayne Barker and Vinnie Martucci composed the music and Tom Chiodo wrote lyrics.

Plum and the detective, whom he fancies, have a duet and dance that’s particular fun, ``Seduction Deduction.″ But Mrs. Peacock has the best song, ``Once a Widow.″ Singing about the judge at one of her murder trials who became a husband, she warbled, to beguine rhythm, ``He got sentimental. It was ruled accidental.″

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