Cherry Hill High School East invites public to get a ‘Clue’

Dedicated young thespians to produce virtual stage version of classic film.

Due to the restrictions necessary because of the ongoing pandemic, Cherry Hill High School East thespians had to prepare for their upcoming virtual performance of “Clue” by rehearsing outdoors, with social distancing rules in place. Learning their lines on a clear fall day are, from left to right: Dylan Schwartz, Niyah Worthy, Carlee Bystrycki, Daniel Pipersburgh, Arielle Cosenza and Pete Cuddihy. (Photo credit: Hemma Boggi/Special to the Sun)

Who dunnit?

Was it Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with the candlestick?  Professor Plum with a lead pipe in the study? Or how about Mrs. White, in the bedroom, using the flames on the side of her face?

Theater aficionados will have to watch to find out. And when they watch from the comfort of their own homes, they’ll have to listen closely, as Cherry Hill High School East is working on a virtual production of “Clue.”

The production is based on a 1985 movie version of the popular board game  and will be presented as an old-time radio drama.

“We are going with the licensed stage version, ‘Clue: Stay at Home,’ which is based off the movie script for the stage show. It’s meant to be done virtually, for a radio audience or a live-on-Zoom audience,” East drama head Pete Gambino told the Sun on Nov. 17. 

Because of COVID limitations on stage productions, Gambino said the choice was made to fully embrace the element of voice acting. When folks log on for the show, he added, there will be a limited amount of visuals. Viewers will need to sharpen their aural concentration to deduce what’s going on.  

Performers and directors had to sharpen their concentration as well, to adjust to the realities of rehearsing a production with social-distancing protocols. 

“We prefer to rehearse in person, and were able to have them outdoors thanks to the good weather we had this fall,” Gambino said.” “It was a really fun experience. People got some tans and burns in the process. Although there’s no substitute for being on stage, with everyone involved, in the moment.” 

Several folks involved in the show said they made the most of their interactions, because rehearsals in the online sphere left a lot to be desired. 

“When we had to do Zoom rehearsals due to rain, to make a pun, it put a damper on everything. When you can’t physically be there, together, things became way too chaotic,” Gambino noted. 

Peter Cuddihy, who plays Wadsworth the butler, added: “When we were there in person, you could connect easily. There was this certain energy. Online rehearsal affected our timing. As you know, a lot of comedy is timing, and it had a negative effect.” 

Junior Alex Barkhammer has the unenviable but unique task of being the show’s narrator, a role in which he enjoyed losing himself. 

“It’s a really unique thing and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And it’s a disembodied voice,” he mused. “You have to figure out ways to emote more, to get your point across, and to make the audience feel exactly what you’re feeling.”  

“Yes, I’ll be doing the ‘flames on the side of my face’ bit,” said senior Niyah Worthy, who plays Mrs. White. “I did have a lot of fun rehearsing and recording the part.” 

The student said she drew inspiration mostly from the late Madeline Kahn’s iconic  performance in the “Clue” movie. Worthy relishes the chance to step into a role that is the polar opposite of her own personality.  

“Clue” will be posted on Dec. 11 and 12 through Broadwayondemand.com. The troupe is planning, just after Thanksgiving, to present some special enticements through social media as a preview.  

Additional information can be found on the school’s theater Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/che.theatre/?hl=en 

“We were supported from the get go by the school and the administration, which wants to reinforce the arts and activity programs,” Gambino added. “Anything we could do to provide an escape for the students, we were given the space to do, because you never know with COVID.”