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  • The cast of “Clue: The Musical” rehearsed one of the major numbers of the show. The cast and production team had a week to put together the show.
    Courtesy of Mickey Lund
    The cast of “Clue: The Musical” rehearsed one of the major numbers of the show. The cast and production team had a week to put together the show.

The Colonial Players Present “Clue: The Musical” As Part Of One-Week Musical Project

Taylor Stokes
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August 24, 2016

Anyone involved in theater will admit that producing a good musical takes time. You need weeks of pre-production, allowing time for choreography to be made, sets to be designed and, of course, auditions to be held. You need the actual rehearsals, where months are filled with running lines, mastering songs and struggling through dance routines. You need time for tech, the crew spending countless hours building sets, patching lights and mixing sound. After months of preparation, you hit tech week, the final test of your strength as you wonder if this is all really worth the hassle. But when the lights come up on opening night, you look out at the crowd and are instantly grateful for all the time you put in. After all, it takes time to put on a show. Or so was the thought until the Colonial Players opened a full-fledged musical in the matter of a week.

Inspired by the theater’s popular 24-Hour Play Project, Colonial Players this summer launched its inaugural One-Week Musical Project. The concept for the project was simple: Auditions would be held on Saturday, July 9, and the show would run for two nights the following weekend. The cast would have all week to learn music, choreography and blocking, while the production team would use the week to create choreography, design and build sets, and acquire props. The catch? Only director Mickey Lund, music director David Thompson and pianist Annie Flood knew what the musical was ahead of time.

“Nobody knew what they were auditioning for when they came to the audition,” said Lund. “We announced the cast and the name of the play immediately on that first day … [The production team] had to come up with their ideas in about 12 hours, because right after the cast learned the music, we began staging the show.”

Lund and Thompson chose “Clue: The Musical,” a show based off the popular Hasbro board game. [“Clue”] really lent itself to this kind of thing,” said Lund. “The music is relatively simple, and it lent itself to us just by being simplistic and creative … that was the kicker, keeping everything as simple as possible while still putting out a really strong production.”

While the show itself may have seemed simple, the lack of preparation time proved to be difficult for cast member John Halmi. “For me, the biggest challenge was that I had never seen the show, read the script, or heard any of the music before the first rehearsal,” said Halmi. “I was desperately trying to cram everything into my brain at one time.”

Halmi played Professor Plum, a super-genius unafraid to spout his intellect. “My biggest fear was that we’d get to my big song, the piano would play the introduction, and I’d completely blank on how to begin,” said Halmi. “Finally, one of the directors said, ‘John, don’t worry about singing the words — just learn the dance.’ That was what saved me.”

While the production had its ups and downs, the end result was what both the cast and production team had hoped for. “I feel like I had a dream team on this,” said Lund. “[The goal was] to get everyone to think outside the box, and really get the creative juices flowing for a short period of time. That was the goal, and we accomplished it.”

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