Get a ‘Clue’: North aiming for a killer comic production this weekend

Cage Elliott, left, as Colonel Mustard, and Benjamin Stevens, as Wadsworth, are surrounded by other cast members as they rehearse a scene from Columbus North’s production of “Clue” at Columbus North High School on Nov. 29.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Truth be told, Justine Lykins would love it if perhaps Colonel Mustard could take the mystery out of her pre-show jitters of the stage show “Clue” and bury a dagger deep into the woeful worries of her directorial debut this weekend.

“I think I’m dealing with enough nerves for everyone who will be on that stage,” Lykins, said, laughing at herself.

Yet she is enough of a drama devotee to know that she has a killer production on her hands with an automatic audience connection with those who have played the long-popular board game.

So it will be when the Columbus North High School Drama Department will present the comic murder mystery at Judson Erne Auditorium Friday through Sunday. Clearly, the director sees the presentations as more sure-fire hits rather than dramatic dice rolls.

“The students are absolutely fabulous,” she said.

So fabulous that, when 50 students auditioned and wowed her, she decided on a double cast to encourage as much young talent as possible. Though her actors are teens, a number of them have played the board game or seen the 1985 movie starring Tim Curry.

She herself saw the movie a few years ago and enjoyed that. She then saw Indiana Repertory Theatre’s version of the show just a few months ago and loved it.

“So I decided several years ago that if I ever got to direct, I would pick ‘Clue,’” Lykins said. “When I eventually realized that it was a stage show, I got really excited about it.

“I just would like everyone to have a great evening of laughter,” she said.

Adding to the possibilities of laughter besides the script by Sandy Rustin is the fact that one of Lykins’ two casts for the show have written an original, whimsical tune about the performance — and she may include the song in the local presentations.

The script itself includes a bit of wry “Clue” history, such as when Professor Plum curiously asks of his mansion-oriented surroundings, “Who designed this place?” and British butler Wadsworth responds with “Parker Brothers.”

Much of the comedy has kept cast members laughing during their run-throughs.

“It’s been pretty hard to keep a straight face sometimes during rehearsals,” said Daniella Riley, dressing as a man and playing Wadswoth.

She is among those who played the board game as a kid, taking guesses from clues about who the murderer is, with what weapon, and in what room. With little prodding, she acknowledged that she can relate to her director’s nervousness.

“When this was being cast, I was so nervous that I almost considered not auditioning,” Riley said. “I saw that everyone else was so really, really good.”

Benjamin Stevens, playing leading character Wadsworth, gave up basketball season for something other than sports drama. He sheepishly mentioned that this marks his first lead role since summer elementary school workshop shows of productions such as “Winnie the Pooh.”

He also mentioned that learning an accent was hardly the easiest task.

“My British is probably a little rusty,” Stevens said.

He loves the jokes in the script, simple as some may be, such as this snappy exchange.

Colonel Mustard: “Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?”

Wadsworth: “You don’t need any help from me, sir.”

More than anything, the cast has worked to make sure a board game cannot be seen as a bored game of whodunit on the stage.

“It’s been really neat,” Lykins said, “to see everything all coming together.”

About the show

What: Columbus North High School Drama Department’s production of the comic murder mystery “Clue,” based on the board game.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Where: Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St. in Columbus.