High school cast at Vernon High produces its quarantine version of its spring play, 'Clue'
Was it Mrs. Peacock with the rope in the billiard room?
Or, was it Professor Plum with the lead pipe in the lounge?
Backlight Theater, the student production company at Vernon Hills High School, will let you in on the big secret Friday when it shares a one-day-only production of its spring play "Clue," which is happening despite cancellation of the school year and the state's stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now named, "Clue in quarantine," the stage production has pivoted to a radio version (think the kind of pre-television entertainment your grandparents and great-grandparents indulged in) that features voices and music recorded from the homes of the ensemble members.
The play is a take-off of the popular board game and cult movie favorite in which six guests assemble for a dinner party at the home of Mr. Boddy. When the host turns up dead, it's clear to the guests no one is safe. They race to find the killer and keep the body count from stacking up.
Anyone who buys a ticket from the VHHS website by 5 p.m. Friday will receive an email link to use to listen to the 1 hour and 15 minute show. The link will be good for 24 hours, starting at 6 p.m. Friday.
"This show would have been so fun to do, and it's a shame we didn't get to do it on stage," said senior Caylee Brand, a theater veteran who has participated in 12 productions at the school. "But I am so grateful that we are getting the opportunity to at least present the show at all. And it's cool that we were all able to reunite to do something, even though school was technically done."
Brand plays the role of Mrs. White, who is a maid in the board game, but more of a mysterious, dress-in-all-black character in the play.
"And she may or may not have killed five of her husbands," Brand said coyly. "Mrs. White is always kind of lingering in the background with something fun to say. I've never played a character like her. It's a really fun role."
Brand and her castmates were about a month into rehearsals for the play -- it was originally scheduled for mid-April -- when school was canceled. She says everyone was sad to think all of their hard work was going to be for nothing.
But fellow senior Kieren Bell, the sound engineer, suggested the "show could go on" with sound only.
The entire cast and crew of about 35 got together recently for a Zoom call, read their lines and Bell recorded it. He put everything together on a file and added sound effects and music.
"Kieren really pushed that idea and I thought we absolutely should do it," said Kevin Phelan, the school's faculty theater sponsor. "We also got about eight or nine students to volunteer to play music for the show, each from their own home, and Max and Benny Liber, who are seniors and twin brothers, put that together.
"It's like going back in time with a very old-time feel where everything is happening in your imagination. But it's a very fun show and it's a way for our students, especially our seniors, who have been through such a strange year, to once again be a part of their school and their theater and their community. They miss that."
So ... who done it?
"I cannot reveal that," Brand said with a laugh. "It's going to be fun to solve the murder."
How to listenWhat: "Clue in quarantine"
Who: Presented by Backlight Theater, the student production company at Vernon Hills High School
When: 6 p.m. Friday at www.d128.org\vhhs\performing-arts\ticket-information; the email link will be active for 24 hours.
Tickets: $3 with proceeds donated to The Actors Fund, which helps struggling theater professionals. Tickets must be purchased by 5 p.m. Friday.