Framingham State’s theatre club, The Hilltop Players, staged three performances of “Clue” – its first play performed in person since COVID-19 – in the Dwight Performing Arts Center on the weekend of Nov. 18.
“Clue” is a one act play based on the Parker Brothers board game. It follows six guests at a dinner party as they rush to cover up murders and search for the murderer who is hiding within the mansion they are visiting. They are accompanied by Wadsworth, the butler of the estate, as well as the maid, Yvette, and a cook.
Auditions for “Clue” were held in September, and rehearsal commenced shortly afterward.
Senior Sabrina Grammatic made her directorial debut with this show. “I decided to direct this semester on a whim,” she said.
Grammatic explained the show was chosen out in the spring semester of the 2020-21 school year in Hilltop’s selection process. She said, “Since the semester before this one was heavily drenched in COVID and COVID safety precautions, there weren’t many options for us to choose from as an organization.”
She said “Clue” was a favorite movie for her family and she had put thought into directing before and knew “Clue” would be “something Hilltop could manage to put on given the circumstances [of COVID-19].”
As this is the first show Grammatic had directed, she said she was nervous, but she added, “It was an experience unlike anything I’ve ever done and I’m so glad I did it.”
Grammatic said she began doing theatre in high school, joining a show in her sophomore year. She said, “I’ve been on the stage since then.”
At Framingham State, she started to work backstage as she produced “The Great Gatsby” her sophomore year and had intended to produce a production of “9 to 5” which was halted because of COVID-19.
Grammatic said she had many good memories from this show. She talked about the costume fittings, saying that, “Every time someone came out in costume, the whole cast would cheer and holler about how good they looked.
“We had awards, too,” she said, “I made a paper plate award for everyone in the cast, which was really fun.”
Grammatic reminisced on her time in Hilltop as a whole. “I have had such a blast in this organization, and I wouldn’t trade my time here for the world.”
Senior Caitlyn Davis was the producer of “Clue.” She became involved last spring when Hilltop held their proposal committee and was asked by Grammatic to be the producer. She said the pair had worked together previously when Davis directed “The Great Gatsby” in 2019.
Davis has been very involved with Hilltop throughout her time at Framingham State. She was the treasurer last year and this year has taken on the role of publicity chair. In past shows she has worked both on and off stage, directing in high school and at Framingham State in the production of “The Great Gatsby.”
Davis said her favorite memory of the show was the day everyone put on their costumes for the first time. “It was so fun to watch their characters come to life and see everyone so excited,” she said.
Fourth-year Elisabeta Cojocaru played Mrs. White.
Cojocaru joined Hilltop in the fall of their freshman year and said they’ve loved it ever since. “I just kept auditioning for everything they [Hilltop] offered and I really wanted to do some kind of acting this semester,” they said. “So, I decided to audition since my friend was directing it.”
They have been acting within Hilltop for the last three and a half years. Prior to their time at Framingham State, Cojocaru was involved in their high school theatre department, mostly doing musical theatre.
They said their favorite part of this production was being able to do stage combat. “I have a lot of experience with it, and a lot of other people don’t, so it was nice to be able to teach people,” Cojocaru said.
Junior Eric Qua played Professor Plum.
He said he decided to audition for this show for the same reason he joined Hilltop – to support his friends. “Sabrina, the director, is a close friend of mine, and I wanted to show my support by at least throwing my hat in the ring,” he said.
Qua had no previous experience with theatre before college. His first exposure to theatre with Hilltop was through The Suit Jacket Posse, the improv group on campus. While this is Qua’s third play, it is the first that has been performed in person.
“Watching everyone develop not only their own characters, but also the chemistry with the rest of the cast is always thrilling,” he said. His favorite memory from the performances occurred on Saturday during the final show when he did a card trick. “Watching Noah (Mr.Green) look genuinely impressed and try not to break was incredibly rewarding,” he said.
Senior Noah Barnes played Mr. Green.
Barnes said he decided to audition for “Clue” because of his prior engagement with Hilltop. “The theatre community is quite the confidence booster. Everyone’s so kind and supportive every step of the way,” he said.
He joined Hilltop two years ago and has been heavily involved with theatre ever since. His theatrical debut was in FSU’s production of “The Great Gatsby” where he played George Wilson. Barnes also interned at Wellesley Theatre Project, where he got to work in the backstage sector of theatrical productions.
“Despite only being involved in theatre for two years, I’ve been lucky enough to work in a handful of incredible productions – each with a different job,” he said.
Barnes said one of his favorite memories from this production was trying on his costume for the first time. He said, “Getting to wear this vibrant green suit with a silly little bowtie was a lot of fun. I really enjoy getting to wear something that one wouldn’t traditionally see me wear.”
He also commented on the cast dinners that occur after every show.
“I think it provides the perfect example of why I opted to join Hilltop and try my hand in theatre,” he said. “It’s the community – chatting with all of the wonderful and talented people on stage and off.”
Junior Kristel Normil played Ms. Scarlet.
She said she decided to audition because she wanted to take acting seriously. “I’ve never felt that happiest until on the stage and I heard people laughing and feeling entertained,” she said.
Normil was unprepared for her audition and was shocked to have received a role. She added, “Walking into our first rehearsal, I was a bit uncomfortable because I was the only Black girl and being in a spot like that will make you tad uneasy.”
Through the rehearsal process, she started to be more at ease as she made friends in the cast and crew. She said, “I hope I made some Black girls in my school feel motivated to try out and we can create a diverse community for Hilltop.”
Normil’s only experience before “Clue” was in high school from her sophomore to senior year. Her performance as Ms. Scarlet is the first interaction with Hilltop, she said.
She said her favorite memory from the production was going to the auditions and getting to meet all the different people in the class. She added, “I wish I found out about Hilltop sooner. I was able to meet even more amazing young actors, directors, and producers.”
Sophomore Olivia Copeland played Yvette.
“I auditioned for ‘Clue’ because some of my Hilltop friends were involved with the production and the show is very fast-paced and fun,” she said.
Copeland joined Hilltop last year as a freshman, but also has experience in theatre from high school. “I participated as a cast member, and I also designed costumes for a couple of shows,” she added.
“My favorite memories of Hilltop are the times I get to spend hanging out with the cast, and also seeing the shows come together after working so hard on them,” she said.
Senior Stefano Hernandez played Wadsworth.
“I was so desperate to do anything creative after lockdown,” he said, talking about why he auditioned. “I wanted to have as much fun as possible with whatever role I would have gotten.”
At Framingham State, Hernandez was part of the musical “Spring Awakening,” but beforehand had lots of prior experience. He added, “I bounced between theater departments and high school a lot when I was younger.”
He said his favorite memory from the production was during the actual performances. “Toward the end of the performance where I recap the entire events that played out during the story,” he said. “It was a very heavy acting and moving part and the fact I was able to pull it off as quickly and efficiently as I did while wearing a mask is something I’m definitely proud to say I pulled off.”
[Editor’s Note: Stefano Hernandez and Olivia Copeland are staff writers for The Gatepost]