Whodunnit? Dramatic Association Presents Clue


Carrie Cao '23

The murdered Cook falls onto Ms. Green in a dramatic scene in the play.

The Hotchkiss Dramatic Association (HDA) put on a comedy murder-mystery performance set in a secluded mansion in rural 1954 New England. From May 6 to 8, the community gathered in Walker to watch HDA’s comeback show, Clue, the pandemic interrupted performances for two years. Originally released in 1985 as a movie based on the British board game, Clue was brought to life through the work of thirteen HDA members over the course of ten weeks.

The faculty involved with HDA wanted to continue the theme of “finding that special someone” after an incredibly successful Mamma Mia show. Clue became the front-runner because of its energetic and comedic mystery. HDA board member Chris Mitchell ’24 said, “[Clue] was a great choice for the spring play — the murder mystery storyline is exciting, and the audience’s role is to simply follow along.”

Additionally, Mitchell noted the wide target demographic of the play. “Students want to come with their friends to see who did it, and people of the community who were alive when the movie came out want to watch a remake of what they had seen before,” he said.

Casting was confirmed in early March and student performers began their individual preparation work of character analysis and line memorization over spring break. When they returned to school, the cast rehearsed every night, leading up to tech week, the last week to refine costume fittings, staging, and light and sound cues, before opening night.

Mr. Parker Reed, head of theatrical performance, directed the production. “I hope that throughout this process the students gain the work of precision. A lot of times, students have so much to do that they get pretty acquainted with just doing what’s good enough and then moving on to the next thing, especially if there’s not a grade attached to it. Three weeks ago, [the performers] were [able] to make people chuckle, and since then I’ve been trying to get them to focus on the artistic beauty of precision,” Mr. Reed said, emphasizing the importance of character execution.

During rehearsal, Mr. Reed and Mr. Derek Brashears, director of theater, have prioritized fostering an atmosphere of respect, gratitude, connection, and trust in order to allow performers to feel comfortable with taking risks and making bolder decisions in their acting. Armani Frazier ’24, who played Mrs. White, said, “The show is only as good as all of us can make it, so everyone has to do their part to make it come alive, working together both on and off the stage. Luckily, the cast is really nice and supportive, so we’ve been very productive together.”

Unlike Mamma Mia, the majority of the cast were underclass students. Mr. Reed said, “The cast is very young — there are just two Seniors, a couple of Upper Mids, and the rest Preps and Lower Mids. Due to Covid, we fell out of the habit of putting on full fledged productions, but now, we have a younger generation to whom we can begin to teach the values of an effective ensemble.”

Zach Scrima ’22 took many of the younger cast members under his wing. “[Clue is] their first production, so it’s all very new and exciting. I’ve learned how to help them along and show them the ropes of theater etiquette,” Scrima said.

After the back-to-back performances over the weekend, the community left Walker in praise of the cast, the stage design, and the lively plot that warranted much laughter. Ava Frankel ’24, an audience member, reflected, “what made Clue so fun was how obvious it was that the cast was really enjoying themselves and getting into their characters.”

For the HDA performers, the process of rehearsing for Clue as well as seeing it come together on stage was a fulfilling experience. Mehar Bhasin ’23, who played Yvette, said, “Clue helped me grow as a performer, and I absolutely loved my experience. We all did such an amazing job, and I think the main reason behind that is the way we all cared about and wanted to support each other. I learned so much from everyone and discovered so much more about my identity as a student performer.”