THE BOSTON GLOBE – Plymouth’s Americana Theatre Co. wants audiences to reenter the live theater world laughing.
“We had a really strong desire post-pandemic to bring people together and let them have an evening of theater and let them laugh,” said Jennifer Martin, the company’s associate artistic director. “We thought it was really important to offer this to our patrons after a really tough year.”
The vehicle the company chose for its return to the live stage is the popular American comedy “Clue,” its cast of colorful characters — Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, to name three — broadly familiar from the popular family board game.
The company describes the play’s setting as “the most unusual dinner party you will ever attend … It is seven strangers coming together and not knowing why.”
The six characters of “Clue”— with surnames matching the colors of game board pieces — discover that one of the party’s participants has been murdered, but they do not know the motive, said Americana’s artistic director Jesse Sullivan. “The host informs them they’re all being blackmailed, each for a different reason. The host is killed. More murders follow.”
Initiating the company’s 10th season, the show will open at the Spire Center for Performing Arts in downtown Plymouth on Thursday, July 8, and run through July 25.
A regionally based professional theater company, Americana Theatre Co. was founded by Carver native Derek Martin in 2011. Its first production was “Private Lives” by Noel Coward.
“We had no idea whether it would succeed or not,” said Sullivan, who joined the company for its first show. “People came to the shows. The company attracted a donor. Other theater artists found their way to our door.”
The company’s last production before the pandemic was a radio theater staging of “It’s a Wonderful Life” performed at the Plymouth Center for the Arts.
The company chose “Clue” for its return in part because the play requires close, intertwined stage work by an ensemble cast. “One of the things we value is we always give our members a chance to get on stage,” said Sullivan, who performs the role of Professor Plum, a recently disgraced psychologist.
Making broad use of the board game’s characters and setting, the play adds a murder mystery plot and a few additional characters — including a host for the dinner-party setting and the always-suspicious butler. Characters move quickly from room to room, driven by events and — whoops — the discovery of another body.
More important than the unraveling of the play’s murder plot is “the fun the characters are having playing off each other. It’s a fast-paced show,” Sullivan said.
Characters dash from room to room, discovering the weapons employed in the board game, “chasing people, opening doors and slamming them. It’s murder mystery mayhem,” Sullivan said.
In addition to casting its own members, Americana holds auditions in New York and California. “We bring in the best people we can find,” Sullivan said. “We love introducing actors from out of state. And we love showing off our town to them.”
Company members in the cast include Derek Martin as the butler Wadsworth and his wife Jennifer Martin as Miss Scarlet (the Martins live in California and summer in Plymouth); David Friday of Plymouth as Colonel Mustard; and Erin Friday of Carver as Mrs. Peacock. Payton Gobeille of New York plays Mrs. White.
The production is directed by Eric Harrell. Tickets are $35 and $30 for seniors and students. They are available at americanatheatre.org/tickets.
By Robert Knox, correspondent