A witches' brew: 'Full Moon Macabre' brings tales of horror, woe to Holmes Theatre
Are you ready to enjoy some ghostly, ghastly tales of horror and woe?
The Historic Holmes Theatre production "Full Moon Macabre" will offer all that and more -- with a dollop of humor thrown in for good measure.
Set to take place this coming Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26-27, the inaugural presentation of the Holmes Theatre's new production department has been several months in the making, according to co-directors Lorraine Bahr and Rick Kratzke.
Kratzke and Bahr also portray several of the characters in this show, which is presented as a series of Halloween vignettes.
The famous "witches' brew" scene from William Shakespeare's Macbeth; Edgar Allen Poe's frightful tales, "The Raven" and "The Tell-Tale Heart," and an original movement piece created just for this show -- by the cast themselves -- all form the "horror" part of the equation, according to Bahr.
But there are also several humorous elements thrown in, courtesy of contemporary playwright L. Don Swartz.
"It's humorous, but it's dark humor," points out Bahr.
The show begins with one of these humorous skits, a short piece depicting high school students in a graveyard, trying to undo the harm created when one of them stole the "Witch Stone" from a witch's grave.
The second vignette, set in the same graveyard, depicts two old friends -- both women -- who get lost in the graveyard while trying to find a friend's funeral.
Also included in the show are the more familiar works by Shakespeare and Poe.
The most unique part of the production, however, is definitely the original movement piece, which was titled "The Veil Between Worlds."
All of the cast members had a hand in creating this original work.
"The first half is humorous, while the second half is fantasy, with an 'other-worldly' feel," Kratzke said.
Like many of the other stories in the show, this piece also begins in the graveyard, when a newly-deceased man (played by Doug Schultz) arrives and lies down in the grave next to his wife. He soon begins butting heads with a rival buried in a nearby grave, and their rivalry ends in a dance competition.
In another part of the dream sequence, a woman, played by Robin Bueng, has a dark dream involving spirits that are fighting over her.
"This is a really creative and courageous cast," Bahr said. "They created something original, from nothing but their own imagination."
"We were creating the characters before we really knew what we were doing (for a plot)," said Rick Johnson, another of the actors in the group.
"It was total group participation," added Schultz.
"We really brainstormed and bounced ideas off of each other," said Bueng.
The process of creating "Full Moon Macabre" began with a five-day actors' workshop at the end of August, in which the entire cast participated, Bahr said.
"It really helped us get to know each other a little better," Schultz said.
Though many members of the cast had worked with each other before, on productions by the local community theater group Playhouse 412 (which merged with the Holmes Theatre to create its new production department), this was a way of getting re-acquainted, Johnson added.
"It really was a crash-course class in acting," Bahr added.
After completing the workshop, the cast of seven actors began rehearsing between four and five nights a week -- sometimes in the ballroom, sometimes in the main theater, sometimes in the senior nutrition center (downstairs) -- "wherever we could find space," Bahr said.
Along the way, the original plan for a dinner theater evolved into more of a "Halloween party" atmosphere, with hors d'oeuvres created specially for the event that will have a spooky theme.
"It's finger food -- without any real fingers," Kratzke said, adding with a smile, "but you should probably double-check the chili."
"We also make no guarantees that there won't be a real ghost or two in attendance," said Johnson.
"We really hope people leave here talking about their favorite ghost stories," said Bahr, adding that the intent of their show was to "take it down to the roots and traditions of the holiday."
The theme of the show, Kratzke added, is about "facing your fears, in multiple ways."
"All in all, it's been a lot of work, but it's also been a lot of fun," said Johnson, summarizing the process of creating the show.
""It's been fun to do it in this space (the ballroom), because it's more intimate," Schultz added.
Both the Friday and Saturday night shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $7.50 for students; a table for eight can be reserved for $100. Come in costume and save $2 off the price of your ticket. For ticket information please call the Holmes Theatre Box Office at 218-844-SHOW (7469), or visit www.dlccc.org.
Rick G. Johnson