Well Known Strangers put on a live read of the 1985 comedy Clue | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Well Known Strangers put on a live read of the 1985 comedy Clue

click to enlarge ARTWORK: JOSIE NORTON
Artwork: Josie Norton

Local improv comedian Dave Forman has always looked on as other people put on live reads of their favorite TV shows and movies at Arcade Comedy Theater. But now, Forman, along with members of his improv group, Well Known Strangers, will present their own live read of the mystery-comedy film, Clue.

Clue is absolutely one of my favorites,” says Forman, who’s directing the show. “I remember just loving it as a child and renting it all the time.”

He adds that the film is beloved by Well Known Strangers, calling the live read a “labor of love” for many of the group’s members.

Based on the eponymous board game, the 1985 film follows several strangers invited to a dinner party at a secluded mansion, where their evening soon gives way to murderous hijinks. Clue flopped at the box office upon its release but found a cult following among fans who appreciated its farcical humor and inventive storytelling.

Forman says much of the film’s charm lies in its quick, snappy, highly quotable dialogue, which he believes will translate well in a live read. He also cites the outstanding ensemble cast, including Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, the late Madeline Kahn, and character actor Tim Curry, who Forman says carries the film beautifully as the butler, Wadsworth.

“It’s really a who’s who of comedians and great improvisers, and you could tell how much fun they had with the film,” says Forman.

The live read — which has three performances April 4-6 — features eight cast members playing the main characters, including actor Jason Shavers as Wadsworth, and Abby Fudor and Michael McBurney of Arcade Comedy, who will play Mrs. White and Professor Plum, respectively. Five other players will take turns portraying murder victims and other minor roles. 

In terms of production, the cast will remain seated for much of the show, with some movement for certain scenes. Props will be kept to a minimum, while visual elements like projections will be used to create the illusion of being inside separate rooms when characters explore the mansion.

As for costuming, they plan to go all out. 

“I have a lot of ideas on where to take the costumes,” says Forman. “So much is borrowed heavily from the film. The costumes they wore were so iconic – Mrs. Peacock with her glasses, Wadsworth and his tuxedo. There will be a lot of little fun nods here and there to the characters from the film.”

While most of the setting and other elements are stripped down, Forman assures that the show will stick to the film’s running time and its most memorable asset – the multiple conclusions, where Wadsworth reveals how the murders could have played out.

“We’re not gonna drop any chandeliers or anything, but we’re really keeping to the dialogue and all the endings,” says Forman.

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