Students prepare for fall play “Clue,” performing Oct. 14, 15


Isabella Diaz-Mira

Seniors Ava Steely and Jay Love prepare for the play during one of the dress rehearsals in the week leading up to the live performances.

Kate Johnson and Emma Arnold

Set in 1954, the era of the Red Scare and McCarthyism, this year’s fall play “Clue” is full of heinous accusations, trap doors and murder weapons.

Director of Upper School Theatre Jamie Stires-Hardin is running this year’s play, a comedic murder mystery and cult-classic, which will be shown on Oct. 14 and 15 in the Lowe Theater.

“When they had their first read through, I was struck by the amount of laughter,” Stires-Hardin said.

The play follows the string of accusations and murders that occur at a traditional English dinner party. As the plot progresses, the script descends into farcical mayhem.

“I think that a lot of high schoolers will appreciate the humor,” stage manager Adele Wan said.

Seniors Ava Steely and Drew Adams both have starring roles in the production. Steely plays Miss Scarlet, a promiscuous madame.

“Playing Scarlett is an interesting situation because she is not a character that I relate to in my own life,” Steely said.

As a result, Steely thinks of playing Scarlett as more of a challenge compared to roles she has played in the past.

Adams plays Wadsworth, an uptight, formal butler who speaks with a British accent.

“This is the first time that I have spoken with an accent on stage,” Adams said. “They told me I have to go watch Downton Abbey and all that to really learn the accent.”

In order to truly get into character, Adams does a routine where he rolls his shoulders repeatedly, attempting to mimic the tense nature of his character. This warm up adds a personal touch into how he portrays Wadsworth.

“We’re all still in that stage right now of asking what we can do to bring something new to the table while still remaining true to the character,” Adams said back in September. “They have their very specific stereotypes that are in that 1950’s noir style.”

The noir style of the play is characterized by a nonlinear timeline filled with flashbacks, unclear plot resolution and the undertones of existentialism. It reached its peak in the post-World War II era.

Clue’s set will be a piecewise large-scale Victorian mansion that has many moving components. For faculty set designer Thomas Murphy, it is intriguing to build since there are many rooms that the characters will move between during the production.

I think that a lot of high schoolers will appreciate the humor.

— Adele Wan

“It’s been a little bit of a challenge to try to figure out how to get those set pieces built and able to move very quickly,” Murphy said. “It’s a comedy, so everything has to move quickly or people forget to laugh.”

The mansion that the set is trying to emulate has a labyrinth of passageways throughout the house and numerous trap doors and booby traps.

“There are some trap doors and hidden things that then become unhidden,” Murphy said. “I think that that is really fun because we’re gonna hide them really well and then see them suddenly appear during the show.”

In past years throughout the course of the pandemic, the SJS theater community had to undergo many restrictions and modifications to their productions. Transitioning into normalcy after COVID will be both challenging and exciting for the cast and crew involved.

“We had a lot of changes over the last four years for theater because of COVID and restrictions and everything, and I’m glad to feel like we are stepping back into, I don’t want to say normal, stepping back into full-theater scope,” Stires-Hardin said.

According to Murphy, those who are fans of the movie version should make sure to come watch because “it’s superior.”

“I would say that if you want to see something better than the movie, something more fun than the movie, then come watch it,” he said.

Watch a promotional clip here.