Lenape High School’s fall production promises mystery, intrigue and comedy

“Clue: On Stage” will be opening Thursday, Nov. 14 in the Lenape High School auditorium.

From left, senior Nate Lorge, sophomore Matt Farbanice and junior Dominic Jones rehearse a scene from the upcoming Lenape High School production “Clue.”

Lenape High School’s drama department is trying something a bit different for its fall production. Instead of the typical high school musical, the group is trying its hand at a murder mystery this year with their production of “Clue: On Stage,” based on the 1985 film “Clue,” which was itself based on the popular board game of its namesake.

The cast will be performing three shows – one Thursday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. and two performances Saturday, Nov. 16, at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – in the LHS auditorium. Tickets are $8 for children and students and $10 for adults.

This fall play represents director Julie Dean’s first production in the role of head director, having been involved in several of the school’s previous dramatic ventures as an assistant or codirector.

Rehearsals started early in the year on Sept. 16. The small cast required for the production, which doesn’t call for any ensemble or background players, meant some tough cuts had to be made early on in the process. 

Despite feeling bad about having to disappoint some hopeful student actors, Dean says the end result has been a tight-knit group of performers that know each other well and that she has been proud to work with.

“They work great together. They’re quirky and funny, and this is a funny play,” Dean said.

Dean’s background as a special education teacher informs her directing style. During rehearsals she is strict about students listening and learning their lines by a particular deadline, but always ends things on a bright note with positive reinforcement.

“We end with compliments all the time, I always end with something positive,” Dean said.

Seniors Kai Harris, playing a police officer and a singing telegram girl, and Nate Lorge, playing the role of the butler Wadsworth, are seasoned veterans of the LHS stage as well as various productions outside of the school. 

For Harris, who has more experience performing in musicals, this production represents something of a departure. Despite the change of pace, she welcomes the opportunity to stretch her acting chops and do something a little different.

“Not breaking out into song every five minutes is kind of refreshing and I just think it’s a really cool story how everything comes together toward the end,” Harris said.

Both student actors echo Dean’s sentiment about how a key element to the production has been the tight community the young performers have formed during rehearsals for this production.

“We have some really talented people here,” Lorge said. 

“Since we’ve all worked together in the past somehow, we’re really tight knit as a cast, like a little family. It’s really easy to work with everybody,” Harris said. 

The cast and crew has put a lot of effort into this production, attending daily rehearsals since the beginning of the school year, and both Lorge and Harris seem confident it will all pay off on opening night.

“People should come to see this play because we’ve put a lot of work into it. I think it’s coming out great and I think we’re doing a pretty good job of bringing the comedy element of the show out,” Lorge said.

“It’s really good and we’ve put a lot of effort into it. Everyone here talks about it to their friends because they’re just so proud of it,” Harris said. “Some shows you have a cast like that and some shows you don’t, but this is definitely one where we’re all really proud of what we’ve made.”