The Point Dume Club was transformed into a swanky old-time dinner theater over the weekend for Malibu High School’s production of “Clue” based on the classic board game.
Two performances, Friday and Saturday, brought out a full house for the murder mystery. After a successful similar run five years ago, the theater department decided to produce it again as a fundraiser.
The evening started with drinks and appetizers catered and donated by Malibu Farm. Wine and sponsorships were donated by other parents, too.
The whodunit was an interactive production where the audience had time to mingle with the actors, all playing iconic parts such as Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet with plenty of adlibbing, keeping the actors on their toes and the audience guessing who committed the heinous crime.
Even though the subject matter is dark, MHS Theater Director Jodi Plaia assured, “It’s a complete farce. It’s over the top—very stylized, very funny, very big, broad, loud—just absolute farce.”
“Clue” was a challenge for the actors, too, in that the stage was the entire dining hall with no front or curtain and a continuous performance from soup to nuts.
“They literally perform all around,” Plaia explained.
MHS theater productions are not typically fundraisers, but this year, a funding boost was needed after the Woolsey Fire and subsequent rains postponed the fall production of “Spring Awakening.”
“The department tries to break even after ticket sales,” Plaia said. “We don’t make money on shows. We have funding that comes in, but the price of putting on productions is very costly. Just to get the rights to a musical is $5,000.” The MHS teacher of 17 years said when you add costume rentals and sets to a production, most people are surprised that the cost can run upwards of $25,000.
Next year, the school’s arts department will lose more school funding as well, with the loss of some donors, so it was decided to make these performances into a fundraiser for the department. “Everyone chipped in in a different way,” Plaia explained. “The community came together for a common cause.”
The charity Malibu Love also contributed by offering fire victims complimentary tickets to performances.
The Woolsey Fire also left some performers at the school homeless or displaced, making getting to school and rehearsing difficult. But senior William Hammond explained that the theater kids banned together in support of one another: “Instead of putting our energy into mourning our houses, we were putting our effort into making something beautiful in theater.”
Claire Anneet, playing Mrs. White, claimed she wasn’t exactly sad about acting in her last high school play.
“I’m very excited, because it’s my last show,” Anneet said. “This is my last hurrah, giving it my all for Malibu High School before going off to college.” The senior off to Sarah Lawrence College will be majoring in theater and music. “It’s sad, but happy at the same time,” she continued. “This is my last chance to go all out with my friends before graduating in a show that’s really funny.”
Playing Colonel Mustard, Layne Jacobson said, “This performance is special to me because it’s my first time doing interactive theater. But it’s another chance for me to show my skills as an actor and really expand. As I go forward in my life, I want to become a better actor and learn all the ins and outs of it.”
When asked about the unexpected of interacting with the audience, a confident Anneet said, “They can throw whatever they want at me and I will throw it right back at them.”
“I’ve been preparing for any possible scenario,” Jacobson, a junior, chimed in.
“We will make up a whole vibrant back story on our characters,” Anneet explained.
Hammond, who’s been featured in a few MHS productions said, “It’s honestly amazing.
“This is the best last show I could ask for,” he said. “It’s funny. I’m a bit emotional as well. The amount of growth I’ve had just being in theater throughout my four years of high school is humbling. I’m extremely happy to be here. I’m extremely happy to have my last opening night.” Hammond is off to Georgetown University to study international relations with a minor in theater.
The students who spoke with The Malibu Times made sure to give a shout out to their teacher/director, Plaia: “Thank you, Ms. Plaia, for your dedication. The amount of commitment she has for this program makes us feel extremely supported and loved.”