Whodunnit? Lyric play will offer a 'Clue'

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Rehearsals — minus costumes but with face coverings — continue for “Clue,” the murder mystery stage play being presented at Brownwood's Lyric Theatre.

“It's a dark and stormy night … “

So begins the synopsis of the Lyric Theatre’s production of the play “Clue,” which opens Feb. 19 and kicks off the Lyric's 2021 season.

“Clue” is comedic, whodunnit murder mystery, based on the popular board game and the cult classic film. The Lyric production is directed by Larry Mathis, who ends his long Lyric career with the play.

“ … You've been invited to a very unusual dinner party,” the synopsis on the Lyric Theatre’s website continues. “Each of the guests has an alias, the butler offers a variety of weapons, and the host is, well . . . dead. So whodunnit?”

The audience is invited to join the “iconic oddballs known as Scarlet, Plum, White, Green, Peacock, and Mustard as they race to find the murderer in Boddy Manor before the body count stacks up.”

The cast consists of Jonathan Harvey, Taffy Watts, Cassia Rose, Kandice Harris, Valerie Nelson, Joe Dennis, Levi Packer, Paul Underwood, Jill Underwood, Bryan Downs, Jennifer Reeves, Doug Turner, Ryan McCormick and Drex Holt. 

A hullabaloo

“These people are all called and assembled to come to this house that has been abandoned for a period of time,” Lyric managing director Eric Evans said. “The house has multiple rooms, and when they come, all of a sudden somebody is murdered.

“You know who’s murdered but you don’t know how they’re murdered and by whom. So part of the show, which is also part of the board game, is that you try to figure out what character with what item killed the particular person.”

Evans said there is “this whole hullabaloo that goes on the whole time. You have a parlor. You have eight or nine different rooms and there’s all this angst that comes in. Then you have these secret passageways.

“People are dashing in and out. Somebody looks like they’re totally guilty … and then you have all these side stories about these individual characters that begin to come up, which is not part of the board game but is part of the show. So you get to see all these little side stories that people are trying to hide about themselves.”  

Performance times

“Clue” will feature eight performances over the last two weekends in February:

• Friday, Feb. 19 — 7:30 p.m.

• Saturday, Feb. 20 — 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

• Sunday, Feb. 21 — 2:30 p.m.

• Friday, Feb. 26 — 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

• Saturday, Feb. 27 — 7:30 p.m.

• Sunday, Feb. 28 — 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at brownwoodlyrictheatre.com

Audience members can also buy concessions online, and concessions will be delivered to seats at intermission, Evans said.

Veteran performers making Lyric debut

Cast members Harris, Packer and McCormick are theatre veterans who are making their Lyric debuts.

“All of them have formal education and professional experience in theatre. It’s exciting to have that level of interest and investment.

“We don’t get to pay our actors. Oftentimes people like that aren’t hanging around but these all look like long-term Brownwood people.”

Evans said Harris was Mathis’ student when Mathis was the theatre director at Brownwood High School. Packer is a graduate of Early High School, and McCormick is a Howard Payne University graduate, Evans said.

Veteran director taking final bow

“Clue” will be the final Lyric play directed by Mathis.

The 68-year-old Mathis, who has been involved with numerous Lyric productions, and his wife, Terri, are moving to the Georgetown area later this year to be near other family members.

Mathis, a member of the Brownwood City Council, will resign his Ward 3 council seat. Council members will act on his resignation letter Tuesday and consider calling a special election for May 1 to fill Mathis’ seat. Mathis said he will remain on the council until his seat is filled.

“He’s certainly taking it out with a bang,” Evans said. “It’s going to be sad for us.

“Larry’s a very popular director. He’s popular for people to come and watch his shows. He’s popular for people to act underneath him.”

Lyric loses a friend

Evans also noted the death of longtime Lyric board member Dale Wheelis. Wheelis, a retired dentist, died Tuesday at age 75.

Wheelis and his wife, Ruth, were heavily involved in the Lyric and financial supporters, Evans said. Dale Wheelis was involved in numerous civic organizations.

Wheelis believed that “people matter, and what people do for people matters,” Evans said. “I think he lived his life that way. That to me was a great example of one who has a Christian faith. I can’t say enough positive things about Dale. Dale is a certain loss to us here at the Lyric.”

Additional Lyric productions

The 2021 season is a full one for the Lyric.

Other productions throughout the year include “Rumors,” “Mama Mia,” “You Can’t Take It With You” and “Elf the Musical.”

 “We planned an entire 2021 season that has a full slate of shows," Evans said.