Keep Your Eyes Open for These Surprises
By Liz Armstrong
Clue, which is playing four times a week this summer at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, is a dynamic, colorful, and hilarious production with an enormous number of props. Afterall, the set must include a grand hallway, the various rooms in the mansion, secret passageways, and a dizzying number of doors and tricks. Properties Director Benjamin Hohman has given us a sneak peek into some of the fun props used in the show and what to keep our eyes open for.
First keep your eye out for three-and-a-half foot square crystal chandelier. Originally purchased for The Royal Family which the Festival produced in 1993, the chandelier has been in storage for nearly thirty years. Hohman and his team have dusted it off, painted it black, and hung it with glittering black crystals. It is now the perfect chandelier for this gloomy and menacing Victorian house.
The library features a very-hard-to-miss large bookshelf that moves in and out. The books lining the shelves are real, with over 400 donated by the Ye Olde Catholic Thrift Shop in Cedar City. However, because this bookshelf has to move easily, the props team cut them down to less than three inches deep and glued them together. What’s that old saying? “Don’t judge a book by its cover, or lack thereof.”
One section of the stage includes portraits as if it were a wall. If you look closely, these portraits are actually of —scary animals? That’s right! Hairless cats, piranhas, you name it. Scenic designer Jo Winiarski hand-sketched, inked, and Photoshopped these unique portraits for the gallery wall.
In honor of our founder, the late Fred C. Adams, there is also a glimpse of him that can be seen onstage. In the hallway, there are four portraits of Fred, depicting him in various roles he played at the Festival. There’s Fred as the Major General in The Pirates of Penzance and Fred as Adam in As You Like It. Can you figure out what the other two roles are?
Because there are so many different rooms in Clue, Winiarski had to be creative with the set design. Traveling panels and spinning walls were the solution! For example, there’s a kitchen with pots and pans on one wall, and on the other side is the billiard room with pool cues and a dart board.
Each room is color-coordinated too! The lounge is in cool tones, with blues, green, and golds, while the study is old-mansion style, with a gold and red theme. Watch carefully to see all the different designs and details!
The Dining Room Table
The chairs for the dining room scene were originally purchased for A Winter’s Tale. They were also in Hamlet, and have now been reupholstered for their third time onstage. These chairs are much more complicated than they may appear. Because the table and chairs are on a platform, the back legs are actually longer than the front so that they can reach the stage floor.
Even more interesting, there is a seventh place setting for Mr. Boddy. But because there’s not enough room for seven chairs onstage, the props team screwed the back of a chair onto the table to make it look like an entire chair is there. Shhhh, it’ll be our little secret.
When each character is given their weapon, they’re given very large, easy-to-recognize game pieces at the beginning. However, at the end of the show, they pull their weapons out of their pockets. Because they don’t have room in their costumes for the original weapons, there are actually duplicates of each weapon. The original dagger is sixteen inches long, but the dagger at the end is only five inches. It’s practically magic!
The Game Pieces
Real Clue game pieces are used during the play. The map the characters use in one scene is actually a vintage game board! Oh, and there are actual Clue check-off cards from various versions of the game. The characters carry notebooks, which contain the late ’70s version of the check-off sheets from the board game.
Other Fun Facts
There’s a bar in pretty much each room. Murder calls for drinking? There’s even a globe bar, in which the globe spins and contains a full bar set up inside.
Keep your eye out for a full length suit of armor in the study, as well as synthetic red-alligator skin in the library. It’s all in the details!
The refrigerator in the play was built from scratch, with the fridge door the only “real part.” Over 200 pounds of additional weight had to be added to the back to keep it from tipping over. Yikes!
Of course, we can’t give away all of our secrets, but we hope you’ve enjoyed some of the ones we’ve shared. To see Clue and appreciate the intricate set design and props, get your tickets by calling 800-PLAYTIX or visit https://www.bard.org/plays/clue/.