Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet argue in this scene from "Clue: On Stage" at McKay High School. From left are Jeremy Clifton, Jasmin Ramos, Maximus Rodriguez and Axel Islas. (Photos by Nadia Isom)

“Clue: On Stage” at the Douglas McKay High School auditorium at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 18, Friday, May 24, and at 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. Saturday, May 25. Tickets are $5.

As its final production of the school year, McKay High School’s Royal Scots theater is putting on “Clue: On Stage,” based on the movie and Hasbro board game by the same name.

Six guests are invited to a dinner party by a mysterious butler. The guests, who are referred to by the aliases familiar to anyone who has played the board game, are all being blackmailed, and are revealed to be connected to one another by a web of humiliating secrets. The lights go out, and their blackmailer, Mr. Boddy, is killed. But whodunnit?

Each of the dinner guests is a distinct and exaggerated character, and the maid and butler’s surprisingly consistent accents are a delight to watch.

The show’s quick, slapstick comedy is enjoyable for the whole family. And, at only 100 minutes (plus an intermission) it’s short enough to remain engaging. The show is carried by Miss Scarlet’s blase deadpan while delivering adult jokes, that could easily fly over younger viewers’ heads amid the whirlwind action.

Moving set pieces, a myriad of props, an organist, and frequent light and sound cues work in an intricate dance between theater techs and actors, allowing the ridiculousness of the play’s premise and its kitsch humor to work.

Tiffany Cartensen, theater teacher and director, picked “Clue: On Stage” as the spring production to highlight the theater department’s good communication between actors and techs. The diverse group of students have worked together to prepare the student-run show and their enthusiasm and pride in their work is clear in their performances.

While theater is a creative outlet, Carstensen also sees it as a method for teaching students important life skills.

“The great things that theater teaches are working together under stressful situations, learning how to communicate when you’re under stress, putting the value of the team over the value of, I don’t wanna say over the value of the self, but understanding that you must do your part. Everybody is valuable,” said Carstensen.

For the cast and crew, the production has served another purpose: the fostering of community.

“It really is like a safe haven here, and you can just be who you truly are, and there will be no judgments,” said Xiomar Vidana, who plays Mr. Green.

Throughout the school year, Carstensen and the Scots have staged shows with political messages. “Clue: On Stage” is pure escapism.

“I think we all just need to have some time where we can escape our lives, and laugh, and have a good time. We’ve done some shows this year that we feel have had some very serious political messages, and honoring different cultures… and for this one, we just said, ‘you know what, we’re just gonna make this fast paced, crazy, and have a good time,” said Carstensen.

The students hope that their show will allow local people to rethink preconceptions they might have about high school theater, and theater in general.

“This show specifically is a great way to show that theater isn’t all boring, or whatever people may associate it with,” said Hunter Burr, who plays the cook and various other ensemble roles. “It can be fun, it can be hilarious, it can make you laugh until your stomach hurts, you know? It’s a great thing! And I love it.”

Professor Plum (Maximus Rodriguez) takes center stage in the McKay production.

The characters protest their innocence in a scene from "Clue." From left are Tianna Cousineu, Jeremy Clifton, Axel Islas, Xiomar Vidana, Cherish Dione and Jasmin Ramos.

It's a pivotal moment in the action as the body of Mr. Boddy is discovered. (Photos by Nadia Isom) Seated at center is Mrs. Peacock (Meagan Hilfiker).

Nadia Isom is a student at Chemeketa Community College and a writer for its student newspaper, The Courier. This is part of a collaboration between The Courier and Salem Reporter.  

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