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The Sauk Theatre recently fea­tured its first full-length musical in over two years — with 216 pos­sible endings and a dead man as the star.

“I live to die,” the nar­rator and future murder victim Mr. Boddy, played by Josh Lightner, told the audience, smiling wickedly. The board game Clue came to life onstage in “Clue: The Musical.”

The show had the largest crowd since December 2019, joining in the game and making it The Sauk’s most attended show since the COVID-19 pan­demic. It ran Oct. 14 – 17 and 21 – 24.

Meghan Barnes, Hillsdale College com­mu­ni­ca­tions coor­di­nator, and Gianna Green, former social media manager, played Mrs. Peacock and Miss Scarlet, respectively.

“I’m just thankful for the Sauk Theatre, being able to bring theatre to a com­munity that oth­erwise just wouldn’t be here,” Barnes said. “So many people get to come, and maybe they’ve never been to musical theatre before. It’s really part of the com­munity and is bringing the arts in a good, pos­itive way.”

The audience chose the mur­derer, weapon, and room at the beginning of each show and fol­lowed along in their booklets, crossing out or cir­cling names based on the clues Mr. Boddy shared at the end of each scene.

“Directing Clue was chal­lenging but fan­tastic,” director Trinity Bird said. “The cast was a dream. The chal­lenge came from making sure we rehearsed the vari­a­tions in the script and were ready for all 216 outcomes.”

At the start of the show, and after Mrs. Peacock listed her col­lection of deceased hus­bands, Mrs. White, played by Aaron Guest, waddled onstage in a blood-soaked apron. Each char­acter was intro­duced, and three chosen vol­un­teers stepped up to pick from a selection of over­sized Clue game cards as Mr. Boddy looked on.

“Are you ready to choose the grisly gadget of my demise?” Mr. Boddy asked the man in the flannel who stepped up to pick the weapon.

“Amen,” the man replied. The audience’s laughter echoed behind him.

The three cards would hang in a huge envelope marked “CONFIDENTIAL” on the side of the stage until the end of the show.

Mean­while, Mr. Boddy strolled into various rooms, talking aggres­sively with various char­acters, estab­lishing motives, and pro­viding insight on each of them.

Colonel Mustard, played by Geremy Burns, and Mrs. Peacock rein­stated a torrid affair in the ballroom, and Mrs. White ten­derized a roast with a lead pipe.

“You won the Miss Nuclear Waste pageant,” Mr. Green, played by Steven Owsley, recalled as he schemed with Miss Scarlett in the ballroom.

Between each scene, Mr. Boddy came to the front of the stage and announced another clue to the sound of sus­penseful music. Since the killer changed every show, he’d recite dif­ferent lines each night depending on who would later be incriminated.

“The unique chal­lenge was the inter­active nature of the script. Our Mr. Boddy, Josh Lightner, was out­standing at nav­i­gating this each night,” Bird said. “Also, the music was incredibly chal­lenging and our musical director Kriti Gautsche worked her magic as always.”

After a whirl of sneaking and singing, and exchanging of classic Clue game weapons, the char­acters awoke to Mr. Boddy’s missing body and a detective, played by Mandee Howard, at the scene ready to interview each suspect.

If the actors chose not to find out who the killer was at the beginning of the show, there was one line that would give it away for them, Barnes said. Whoever the detective ques­tioned about the sheet music found in his or her room was the murderer.

Because, at the end of this show, Pro­fessor Plum, played by Dave Trippett, was the mur­derer who’d been chosen but wasn’t the mas­termind after all — he was simply an accom­plice to the piano player. The piano player was secretly the real Pro­fessor Plum, played by adjunct instructor of music at Hillsdale College, Tom Ryskamp ’19, stuck behind a dark curtain working with a broken key and nursing a need for vengeance against Mr. Boddy for rel­e­gating him to the back of the stage.

Of all the shows they per­formed, no one ever chose Barnes’ char­acter as the killer. Before their last matinee’s curtain could fall, The Sauk director Trinity Bird asked her to perform the speech of the accused killer that she never got to give during the play.

“Everybody at The Sauk is so great. Everybody loves everybody,” Barnes said. “Everybody was just really putting forth their best effort and working really hard and being really pos­itive and encour­aging. There’s no drama.”

Bird said that he con­siders the Sauk to be home.

“I work at a place that is full of love, encour­agement, art, music, laughter, and cre­ativity. Everyone who comes into this building is here because they want to be,” Bird said. “It is hon­estly the best job in the whole world.”

The Sauk’s next per­for­mance will be the Pigeon Creek Shake­speare Company Pro­duction in “Shake­speare 101,” a col­lection of scenes from the writer’s plays, on Nov. 6 at 8 p.m.