Inspired by the Parker Brothers board game that has amused families for a half-century, “Clue: The Musical” is a coyly cute conceit which remains little more than that. An idea lost in its own maze of puzzles, the musical features some able actors who struggle gamely with cartoon characterizations.
Pointed puns and broad humor miss the laugh targets, and the score has little melodic content and breezy tempos that display little variation.
Posing the familiar questions of who dun what, where and with which weapon, “Clue” assembles the usual suspects in a manor house. The victim, Mr. Boddy (Robert Bartley), serves as a rhyming narrator and interactive host, summoning participants to the stage to select cards that will identify the killer and weapon at the play’s conclusion. Audience members are provided with score cards to tally the clues.
Everybody has a motive. The housekeeper, Mrs. White (played by Daniel Leroy McDonald in drag), sings a song of survival as she tenderizes a roast with a lead pipe. The natty and shifty Mr. Green (Marc Rubman) was swindled in a bank fraud, and the oft-widowed Mrs. Peacock (Wysandria Woolsey) sings foul play after leaving several dead husbands in her wake.
Professor Plum (Ian Knauer), whose family oil business was forced into bankruptcy by Boddy, ties a hunk of clothesline into a noose. Colonel Mustard (Michael Kostroff) joins Mrs. Peacock for some saucy double-entendres and a clumsy tango.
The arrival of the pint-size, hard-nosed detective (Denny Dillon) attempts to liven up the show’s second half with an interrogation of the suspects. In “Seduction Deduction,” she wards off the advances of the lecherous professor before solving the crime.
The cast is prepared to adjust the solution and finale for every performance. Even if one happens to choose the correct villain, be prepared for a tricky postscript.
It all has a bright and loony attitude but lacks style and real imagination. David R. Zyla’s colorfully conceived costumes correspond to the names of the characters, and visual economy defines the (uncredited) single set, where walls reflect the pattern of the game board and moveable towers divide various rooms.