Clue: A New Comedy Opening at Dr. Phillips Center

A mansion. A murder. A mystery.

Six actors stand on stage in a line on one side of a closed wooden door, five of them are crouched close together with their ears pressed against glasses, trying to hear a conversation inside the closed door. The other actor is standing facing away from the rest, his glass pressed to his own ear, but the other end is connected to nothing.
The Company of the North American tour of CLUE - photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Murder and blackmail are on the menu when six mysterious guests assemble at Boddy Manor for a night they’ll never forget.

Was it Mrs. Peacock in the study with the knife? Or was it Colonel Mustard in the library with the wrench? Based on the fan-favorite 1985 Paramount Pictures movie and inspired by the classic Hasbro board game, “Clue” is the ultimate whodunit that will leave you dying of laughter and keep you guessing until the final twist.

The national touring company of “Clue” has an Orlando connection. The actor who plays Mr. Boddy, Alex Syiek, co-wrote a few shows for the Orlando Fringe Festival with writing partner Bryan Jager.

 

Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine sat down with Alex to discuss Orlando Fringe, the joys of being on the road with “Clue” and one of the many things he has in common with Lin Manuel Miranda.

: Six actors in formal attire sit all on the same side behind a long fancy dinner table. Each actor is staring forward into the distance with a shocked and perplexed look.
The Company of the North American tour of CLUE – photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

 

Michele: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Alex. I always like to ask what city are you in right now?

Alex: Tampa.

Michele: How fun!

Alex: It’s been great so far, sunny, such a shift from the last city we were in, which was Ohio.

Michele: I’m sure that’s a nice change for you all. We’re excited to have you in Orlando. How long have you been on the road?

Alex: I want to say this is our 13th or 14th week so far.

Michele: I’m sure it all runs together.

Alex: Yes, absolutely.

Three women in formal evening attire are seated on a 1950’s-style brown couch. Three men in suits stand directly behind them. Each person is holding a murder weapon up in the air, looking at it.
The Company of the North American tour of CLUE – photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

 

Michele: Is this your first tour?

Alex: It is my first tour and I’m loving the experience. To see so many different cities is fantastic.

Michele: People fall into two camps; touring people and non-touring people. Is this something you would enjoy doing more of in the future?

Alex: Right. I think it depends on the project. “Clue” is a property that I have been really in love with since I was a small child. To be able to play in this show on the road is really special for me.

Michele: Orlando is excited about this production. Tell me more about the show.

Alex: It’s a madcap, hilarious murder mystery, who-done-it. If you played the board game growing up, you’re familiar with the characters. There’s Professor Plum, Mr. Green, Mrs. peacock, all trapped in a manor, and there’s been a murder. They have to get to work protecting themselves and solving who committed the murder. It’s a mile-a-minute fun, 80-minute show, in and out. You’re going to laugh your head off and it will hopefully get you guessing along as well.

Four women and a man stand on stage crouched in a line with three men standing behind them as they search for something. All actors are looking to their left off in the distance with a frightened look on their faces.
The Company of the North American tour of CLUE – photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

 

Michele: I know this is print media, but I just have to ask how you pronounce your name.

Alex: It’s “sayak” like kayak.

Michele: Thanks. I’m curious about these things. So, I did some Googling; I love the Google, and you’re all over the place. I read that you’re originally from California.

Alex: I am.

Michele: Were you born and raised there?

Alex: No, we moved around a bit when I was a kid. I was actually born in Pennsylvania but moved to Massachusetts pretty early. I didn’t move out to California until I was nine, and spent my middle school, high school years there until I went off to college. My parents still live in California, but they are both on Amelia Island right now, in Florida. They have a place they share with my godparents, so we’re down in this area quite a bit.

Michele: I love Amelia Island; such a lovely place.

Alex: My godparents actually live in Orlando proper, so I’m going to get to see them next week, which I’m very excited about.

Michele: That’s fantastic. It’s good to connect with family when you’re on the road. Now when did you move to New York City?

Alex: That was a little over ten years ago now. I moved there in January 2014.

Michele: I was excited to learn that you wrote a few shows for Orlando Fringe.

Alex: That was sort of a happenstance thing. My friend sent me this Playbill work ad, basically for a book writer down in Orlando. They were looking for a composer/lyricist for a show he was writing, and he happened to be up in New York for the week. So, I met up with him, Bryan Jager, and we hit it off. We ended up writing a few shows for the Fringe. The first one being, “Oh, Hi Johnny!” which was a musical parody of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room,” and then “Scream Gays,” which was a scream musical parody for the Fringe. Both were such a blast to work on, especially with the local talent, and to write for their voices. They were fun projects.

Seven actors lay stacked on top of each other horizontally, peeking out from behind an open door. Only their surprised faces are visible outside of the door frame. Across from them, a man in a suit has one arm outstretched, having just opened the door.
The Company of the North American tour of CLUE – photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

 

Michele: As an actor, singer and writer, if you had to make a choice between performing and writing, what would you choose?

Alex: That’s a hard one. I usually tell people the truth, which is I can’t imagine ever not doing both. Honestly, since I moved out to California and started taking piano lessons, they sort of went hand in hand with each other. I started performing because my sister was performing. She’s my older sister, and I wanted to do what she did, and then I liked creating stuff. I was very interested in performing new worlds, new stories, and that was my artistic growth— acting, writing and performing the stuff I wrote.

Michele: I heard you sing on YouTube, and you have a fabulous voice, so I can see why it would be a tough choice.

Alex: Well, thank you.

Two actors stand crouched on stage as they are on the lookout for something. A woman in a French maid’s uniform is slowly walking with a feather duster out in front of her as a weapon. A much taller man is behind her looking more frightened than her.
Elisabeth Yancey and John Shartzer in the North American tour of CLUE – photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

 

Michele:  When you were younger, did you write things for your sister to perform?

Alex: Oh yes. We were very lucky though, before we moved to California and when we were in Massachusetts, my uncle built a stage in our basement with a little retractable curtain. The boombox could be piped in like a speaker. It was a cool setup to have for seven years growing in Massachusetts. My sister would usually direct and star in the plays, and I would be running the sound system and pulling her around the stage in a wagon. It definitely fostered my love for getting into the theater.

Michele: I can visualize that in my mind. What a generous uncle. Now, who are your inspirations?

Alex: I tend to enjoy writing songs; musical lyrics is where I shine. You can’t write musical theater and not be influenced by Stephen Sondheim. Another one of my biggest influences is one of my favorite professors. I went to grad school at NYU for musical theater writing and my professor, William Finn, is one of my favorite writers because of how candid and direct he is.

I feel like there’s a little bit of that DNA mixed in there as well. I’m very much into modern pop radio and that obviously trickles into my sound.

For acting, it’s a whole slew of different influences, because everyone grows up watching Hollywood movies and TV shows. From an early age, I was lucky to have my family go on regular excursions to see Broadway shows, especially when we lived in Boston. And when we got to California, we got to see the touring shows that came through. In fact, a few weeks after we hit Orlando, we’re going to be touring through the venue where I grew up watching shows, which is very mind exploding for me.

Michele: One more little item I found on the Google, which I absolutely love, is you’re a long-term substitute teacher.

Two actors crouch in a standoff on stage, a long green hallway wall with a vintage portrait in between them
Tari Kelly and Mark Price in the North American tour of CLUE – photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

 

Alex: Yes.

Michele:  That’s a tough gig. When was the last time you subbed, sir?

Alex: It was towards the end of 2021. It was something I got into during the pandemic lockdown. There was a shortage of teachers in New York City, and I was able to follow that path. My favorite time was when I spent six months with a second-grade class up in Hamilton Heights. They were the most fun, most empathetic group of kids I’ve ever had a chance to work with. They all looked out for each other and were so mature in the way they handled the whole situation we were going through. A lot of the elementary schools were some of the first to go back into in-person learning in New York, so having them all there for each other was so inspiring every day.

Michele: Well, they were fortunate to have someone empathetic like you as a teacher. That was a tough time.  Lin Manuel Miranda taught in the schools, so it’s a wonderful legacy.

Alex: Exactly.

A man is lying spread out on the floor, mouth agape as a falling chandelier hangs over him. A woman in all black stands in the foreground with her hand covering her eyes.
John Shartzer and Tari Kelly in the North American tour of CLUE – photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

 

Michele: Any parting thoughts?

Alex: Well, I think that “Clue” is a show not to miss.  If you’ve seen the 1984 movie, if you’ve played the board game, if you have any passing interest in murder mysteries or who-done-its at all, it’s going to be a not-to-miss show. It’s impossible to leave the theater without a big smile on your face.

Michele: Can’t wait to see it this week, Alex. Thank you for your time.

Alex: Thanks, Michele.

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Written by T. Michele Walker

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