MANITOWOC, Wis. (WFRV) – An inside joke is the fellow playing Mr. Green enters Boddy Manor, looks around and says, “I wasn’t expecting anything like this.”
Warren Schmidt, the fellow playing Mr. Green, also is the designer of the set and its master builder.
What’s more, the set is one of the more elaborate creations to be found on community theater stages.
Along with a basic well-to-do manor-ly look are doors leading to rooms suggested by the popular board game Clue – the billiard room, kitchen, dining room, library, ballroom and so on. But, instead of characters entering the rooms, the walls and guts of rooms – the furnishings and accoutrements – are brought out to center stage when needed for individual scenes.
Topping things off for The Masquers, Inc. production with one more performance today, Saturday, May 14, on the Capitol Civic Centre stage is one more essential accoutrement: The cast. The players, who are experienced, seem inspired by all the special stuff around them.
A whole lot of laughter erupts as director Claran LaViolette’s actors – who she also costumed with flair – eagerly dive into a comical, pun-filled story inspired by the clever board game Clue.
There’s no game in the play. What happens is somewhat inspired by Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” A mysterious message has lured people to a remote place – on a dark and stormy night, of course – for drinks and dinner. Each visitor has something deadly or shady in his or her past, and Mr. Boddy aims to exact his due.
Everything is played with comedic character artistry. This is a humdinger cast. Along with individual color is vivid team interplay.
Central is Tim Brey as the butler Wadsworth, who is in charge of the evening. With Tim Brey’s gifts for timing and vocal delivery, much crazy-quilt action tumbles.
The time of the story is the 1950s. Each guest works in Washington, D.C., a hotbed because Red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy – Wisconsin’s own! – is fueling the fire of suspicion about everyone. What McCarthy did wasn’t funny. What happens in “Clue” is.
Havoc happens around…
+ Patrick Schamburek as Colonel Mustard, who has a way of unloading inane one-liners.
+ Corrie Hansen as Miss Scarlet, who is saucy/sexy.
+ Paul Hacker as Professor Plum, who is a lofty academic with lowly behavior.
+ Kathy Kowalski as Mrs. Peacock, who is the epitome of nose-in-the-air snooty.
+ Darcy Gravelle as Mrs. White, who dresses in black and is cloaking dark deeds.
+ Warren Schmidt as Mr. Green, a nervous sort.
+ Heather Love as Yvette, the French maid, who supplies sight gags.
+ Ellen Peronto as The Cook, who is grumbly and noisy.
At times, the key players travel like a rhumba line – chugging around the stage and even into the audience past the front row – as the story changes scenes.
Word jokes and sight jokes are everywhere. One of the latter is a bit with a gun being fired and the chandelier falling in super-slow motion; Friday night’s audience quickly caught on and added a “wooooooooooooo” as the chandelier slooooooooowwwwwwllllllllyyyyyy “fell.”
The production is especially well-made entertainment.
Running time: Two hours, 15 minutes
Remaining performance: 7:30 p.m. May 14
Creative: Based on Jonathan Lynn screenplay of 1985 Paramount movie inspired by the Hasbro board game: playwright – Sandy Rustin, with additional material by Hunter Foster and Eric Price; producer – Luan J. Leonardelli; director – Claran LaViolette; stage manager – Wendy Van Laarhoven; assistant stage manager – Dean Sleger; set design, master builder – Warren Schmidt; set decorator – Luan J. Leonardelli; costume master – Claran LaViolette; make-up design – Taylor Rahne; hair design – Jamie Holly; props master – Roger Bennin; lighting design – Warren Schmidt; sound effects – J Gravelle; sound technician – Jordan Danielson; lighting technician – Noah Verhasselt
Wadsworth – Tim Brey
Miss Scarlet – Corrie Hansen
Mrs. White – Darcy Gravelle
Professor Plum – Paul Hacker
Yvette – Heather Love
Mrs. Peacock – Kathy Kowalski
Colonel Mustard – Patrick Schamburek
Mr. Green – Warren Schmidt
Mr. Boddy – Bruce Bitter
The Cook – Ellen Peronto
Singing Telegram Girl – Mary Hamachek
The Motorist – Jim Liddle
Unexpected Cop – Roger Bennin
Chief of Police – Justin Nickels
Backup Cops – Tom Bartelme, Dean Sleger, Pete Van Laarhoven
Body Doubles – Roger Bennin, Mary Hamacheck
THE VENUE: Renovation and upgrade projects of 2019 include new seating (with drink holders in the arms), technical upgrades and added public spaces. Located at 913 S. 8th St. in downtown Manitowoc, the 1,003-seat West Auditorium of Capitol Civic Centre features classically oriented styles befitting its 1921 origins as a combined vaudeville and movie palace. New lighting brightens the auditorium considerably. Two large, tiered, tear-drop clear crystal chandeliers grace shoulders on each side of the proscenium stage. All around is ornamentation – Corinthian capitals on faux columns, leaf-and-scroll braces beneath balcony and step-stage box seat areas, gold and red paint highlighting swirls and/or patterned geometric designs amid the cream-colored wall features. The ceiling is coffered. The fringe around the stage is ornate, with the stage curtain regal red with the Capitol Civic Center’s signature overlaid C’s standing out in the middle of the top hanging, which includes six tassels. Distinctive in the theater is the mezzanine, which is tucked far under the balcony and above the rear seats of the main floor. Also distinctive: Upper level signs say “OUT” instead of “EXIT.” The lobbies (the second level new in 2019) and meeting areas complement the rest of the theater in design. One area includes photo displays of stars and prominent personalities, including Charlton Heston and his wife, Two Rivers native, Lydia Clark Heston. The “Jewel on the Lakeshore” is home to 14 community arts, music and theater groups. Designed by local architect William J. Raueber and built by the local George Brothers, Arthur and John, the theater opened June 16, 1921, at Ascher Brothers’ Capitol Theatre under a lease agreement with the Chicago-based Ascher movie and vaudeville house operators. The current name dates to 1987, following restoration with the lead grant coming from the Ruth St. John and John Dunham West Foundation, Inc.
THE PEOPLE: John West was president of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. The foundation that bears the Ruth and John West name supports and fosters the arts, with the Rahr-West Art Museum another significant site in Manitowoc.