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H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Arlington, Virginia, presented “Clue: On Stage (High School Edition)” to the Cappies Critics on December 2, 2023. Here are the top two Cappies Critic reviews.

Kayla Katounas

Centreville High School


It was H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in the Blackbox with a mystery on their hands! H-B Woodlawn’s production of "Clue: On Stage (High School Edition)" was as exciting as it was mysterious.


The play, based on the 1949 Parker Brothers board game and 1985 movie of the same name, written by Jonathan Lynn and Sandy Rustin, follows six socialites with pseudonyms attending a dinner party hosted by the mysterious Mr. Boddy. As the show unfolds, the guests are faced with a night of murder and mystery as they try to find the culprit before they fall victim to the killer among them.


At the center of this production was its ensemble cast, composed of the six dinner guests and the butler, Wasdworth. The interactions between each member of this cast were unique, and despite the chaos constantly going on, they balanced the spotlight well and all allowed each other time to shine. The cherry on top was the excellent tech, which created a mysterious atmosphere throughout the production, making the audience feel just as confused as the characters in the show.


Among the party guests was Sasha Nair’s Miss Scarlet, whose casual indifference and disgust at the events of the evening made the character a standout. Mrs. White, played by Avery Keith, gave a subtle, yet intriguing performance. Keith did an excellent job portraying a character who clearly has secrets to hide, and much of this character work was done through subtle facial expressions and glances at other characters.


Yvette, played by Emmie McDonald, was the mansion’s French maid who was stuck along for the ride on a murder mystery journey. McDonald not only maintained a French accent throughout the entire show, but also gave an impressive performance that made the character a focal point of every scene. The Cook, played by Josephine Horwitz, was also a standout performer. In the character’s limited time on stage, Horwitz managed to give a flawless performance, primarily done through physical acting, whether it be brandishing a knife or being dragged across the floor by panicked party guests.


H-B Woodlawn’s play was extremely impressive from a technical standpoint. It was student-directed by David Myer with assistant director Owen Boucher. The student directors were tasked with a lot, including casting, blocking, and organizing rehearsal schedules, and they clearly handled this well, with all of the elements of the show being put together nicely, along with the support of the many tech crews. Particularly impressive was the props crew (Tanya Fedoseeva, Luke Simolunas, Mackenzie Williams) who not only had to acquire a large number of props, but clearly possessed an impressive level of organization. Many of the props were hidden in the set and costumes throughout the performance, and every prop was in its right place without fail throughout the entire performance. Storing these props on the actors required an impressive effort from the costumes crew (Lydia Dabrowski, Tanya Fedoseeva, Jeb Bachrack) who perfectly matched each costume not only to the corresponding color of each character’s name, but also to each of their unique personalities. All of this was amplified by the work of the H-B Woodlawn Stage Crew, who were ever on the move, helping the mysterious ambiance of the show by constantly shifting the set from room to room.


H-B Woodlawn’s "Clue: On Stage (High School Edition)" was an exciting whodunnit mystery that left audiences itching to break out their old Clue boards upon walking out of the theater.

Ellen Lawton

Herndon High School


Grab a blanket, some popcorn, and get cozy; it’s board game night, but the stakes have never been higher. It’ll take more than a lucky toss of the dice to win this round: welcome to H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program’s production of "Clue: On Stage (High School Edition)."


The play, based on the classic board game, transforms colorful cards and tokens into tangibly human characters. Each one carries a secret - affairs, bribes, murdered ex-husbands - and on a particularly dark and stormy night, they are summoned to the manor of the mysterious Mr. Boddy. When he is found dead, a game of hysteria begins, and the hunt for the killer leaves everyone wondering who they can trust. The stage show premiered in 2017 and was in turn based on the 1985 film, notorious for having three different endings, which left its audience surprised every time.


H-B Woodlawn’s production had the cozy camaraderie of game night by a crackling fire. Every cast and crew member leaned into the electric pace of the play, tracing their own paths through the chaos of a murder mystery. The stage crew turned walls in every direction, making secret passages appear like one giant maze, but the suspects never lost the plot, peering into doorways and feeling for dead bodies in the dark. Knitting each piece of the play together, like red string on a conspiracy board, was Finn Blackwell-Curtis as the enigmatic butler Wadsworth.


Blackwell-Curtis was an excellent conductor of every scene, whether making accusations or silently calculating the next move in the background. Every quip and witticism was delivered with an impressively dry British accent, but Blackwell-Curtis shone even more when imitating the other characters. In ‘recap’ scenes, the butler adopted each suspect’s mannerisms or inflections - a kooky performance that elevated the rather dark premise of the show.


More hysterically humorous was Kaz Szwez as the bustling Mrs. Peacock. Every one of Szwez’s lines had an affected, dramatic air, reminding the audience that Peacock was, after all, the wife of a very important politician. Just as endearing was Jayden Brown’s performance as the lovable Colonel Mustard. With an earnest smile and a bright voice, Brown brought a silly bit of cheer to each scene. While each of the main characters took their turn investigating the mystery, the supporting cast built suspense and intrigue, too. Emmie McDonald, in particular, was charmingly silly as Yvette, the maid- dusting everything from downed chandeliers to dead bodies, and always speaking in an extreme French accent.


Perhaps most impressive about H-B Woodlawn’s production was the fact that it was student-directed. David Myers, with assistant director Owen Boucher, planned out everything from the casting to the complex movement of the set. Little details, too, were just as charming - Colonel Mustard carrying a Clue game board around like a map, or Miss Scarlet checking off suspects on a Clue game sheet. Assisting Myers’ vision was the set team (Arvand Fiske, Noah Saunders), whose work held the actors captive in a maze of rooms. Some walls flipped around to reveal conspiracy boards, while others had functioning doggy doors, allowing the cast to crawl through secret passageways just like in the original game.


It’s not a true murder mystery without a final reveal, and H-B Woodlawn treated its audience to the classic Clue experience: multiple endings, leaving the question behind of who the real killer might have been. But with such a charming, eclectic cast and skillful crew, "Clue: On Stage (High School Edition)" proved that what matters most isn’t who wins or loses - it’s how one plays the game.


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