West T. Hill Community Theatre presents Halloween alternative

October 26, 2003|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

Darell Rickmers loves Halloween. He likes the dressing up, spookiness and fun associated with the observance. So when West T. Hill Community Theatre was looking for an alternative to traditional Halloween activities, he liked the idea of a readers theater.

"As an upcoming school teacher, I also am a strong advocate for fun family time," explains Rickmers, who is directing "Frankenstein Slept Here." "This show is not scary for a young child, and in fact has much comedy about it, comedy most children will be able to catch. The characters are presented in such a way that it actually makes them appear almost friendly. Each has a unique personality, and none really appear frightening.

"The theater is a great place to find good family value entertainment - and since this show is free to the public, what more could you ask for?"

Rickmers says readers theater is "a form of drama that is not actually drama."


"It is just the reading of a script," he explains. "However, the reading is done with dramatic emphasis. In other words, individuals read dramatically from a script rather than memorize the lines and act it out. The readers, in most circumstances, are usually chosen randomly from an audience ... sit in chairs on a theater stage, and read the script. However, with this production, because of the nature of some of the comedic aspects, I felt it would add to the enjoyment of the 'reading' if the readers performed some of the blocking, or moving around a set.

"Also, costumes add greatly to the presentation. Since it would be difficult to have costumes available for randomly chosen individuals, the decision was made to 'cast' the show ahead of time, but that the actors would use the scripts, have limited rehearsals, and perform the work in the context of a readers theater."

"Frankenstein Slept Here" is a one-act comedy about some of the descendants of familiar Halloween creatures that most people know about, Rickmers notes.

"However, these individuals are living in Castle Frankenstein with an understanding that their landlady, Baroness Frankenstein, owns the place," Rickmers explains. "They find out that, in fact, Baroness Frankenstein does not own the castle, and is in fact an employee of a Mrs. Hanna Hoople, who actually owns the property, and that Baroness Frankenstein is actually hired help. When Mrs. Hoople decides to pay a visit to Castle Frankenstein, all mayhem breaks loose, and we find the spooky occupants taking on roles such as maid, butler, gardener and more.

"To complicate matters, the Werewolf has decided to show up again, adding more mayhem to the mess already developing. When Mrs. Hoople arrives, she finds Baroness Frankenstein somewhat 'different' but acceptable, and begins to believe she is hallucinating when each of the different spooky helpers presents themselves in their paid help roles."

The "hallucinations" add to the comedy of the piece, Rickmers says.

"First, Mrs. Hoople believes she sees snakes when Medusa appears to assist with her arrival. She thinks she sees a mummy when Kharis is introduced as her butler. She screams bloody murder when she lifts what she believes is a sheet off of a buffet table prepared by her cook, the Phantom Bride, but finds out that it is actually a creature - the Frankenstein Monster.

"Hilarity ensues when the Werewolf appears just as a lamp tries to attack Mrs. Hoople, who actually falls hopelessly in love with him, and takes him off to a romantic marriage and honeymoon in Paris. Mrs. Hoople leaves, satisfied that all is going well with her property, and our ghoulish friends now have a permanent safe haven - until Mrs. Hoople's nephew accidentally sets the electricity into the Monster, bringing him to life. And they live happily ever after, with the monster calling him and his wife, Pauline, 'mamma' and 'pappa.'"

Rickmers says the readers theater is an activity that parents and kids can share and enjoy, without the fear often associated with trick-or-treating.

"There are so many horrible things that happen that have turned this time of year from a time of fun and celebration to a time of worrying for parents," says Rickmers. "This show is a great alternative to those worries, and not only that, it provides for some real, fun, family time.

"The theater and I strongly encourage children and adults to come in costume to help us give the theater a party-like atmosphere. The audience will have the opportunity to find out how much fun, a theater show like this at Halloween can really be."

If you want to go

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at West T. Hill Community Theatre, 117 Larrimore Lane

Free; wear costumes

Refreshments served

Information: (859) 236-8607

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