If you'd like to make a tax-deductible contribution
the Little Theatre, please click here
'House On The Cliff'
by George Batson
October 25-27 & October 31-November
Director: Spencer Meehl
me begin by telling you how much I love a mystery. As far back as I can
remember, if I could pick a book to read, or a TV program to watch, or
a real-life situation to endure, it has always been a who-dunnit. And
this LT production of House on the Cliff, directed by Spencer
Meehl, continues that life-long quest of mine - of finding the
story that makes me wonder, makes me shudder, spooks me and gives me goose-bumps.
Almost as if we were trying to make the evening as ghostly as possible,
my wife and I picked October 31, Halloween evening, to go see this play.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by an entourage of spooky ushers and LT
volunteers all dressed up for the occasion. We were led to our front-row
seats by a goblin in black. Wooooo! The mystery begins to surround us.
The set, designed and created by Technical
Director, Bill Roehrborn was one of the best yet, and
should easily win him a nomination for a 2002-2003 Hammy Award. For a
long time, now I have really believed that the Home Again guy,
Bob Villa, could take lessons from Bill.
Shea played a very convincing Dr. Lane. Michael has appeared
at the Little Theatre in Surprise!, Rolling with the Rock,
and Dial M for Murder.
Brianne Higgins, who
has more energy on stage than Carol Burnette, sat out this entire performance
(in a wheelchair). But she wasn't sitting still as Ellen Clayton, a woman
haunted by the memory of her father with whom she had recently shared
a fateful and deadly auto accident in which he was killed. This was Brianne's
4th appearance on our stage. Previous appearances include her in roles
as the cordon bleu cook in Don't Dress For Dinner, Angie the
maid in The Premature Corpse, and Betsy the youngest sister in
The Octette Bridge Club.
The plot thickens as Dr.
Lane, who is treating Ellen, leaves on a vacation. Enter the mysterious
Dr. Corey Phillips played by Scott Bauer. Scott is a
native Smyrnan. This was his premier performance at New Smyrna Beach Little
Theatre, and he has appeared at the Daytona Beach Community College in
Suburbia and in several productions at New Smyrna Beach High
Judy Szeiler, a veteran LT performer, put her wonderful
acting skills to work as Ellen's step-mother, Karen Clayton, having had
only three weeks to learn her lines and get comfortable in the role, because
of the unexpected loss of one of the cast members. Judy has appeared on
our stage as Margot in Dial M for Murder, I Never Sang For
My Father, Dirty Work At The Crossroads and Flowers
for Algernon. She's also appeared at the Daytona Playhouse in Lost
Rodick again stepped onto the LT stage - this time as the really
believable and doting nurse, Miss Pepper, proving once again that every
good mystery needs an actor who speaks with a lovely English accent. Pauline
would say to you "Whot ocksent?" And she'd be mistaken, because
from her opening line to the curtain call, she was right there with that
English way of saying things - heightening the suspense and moving the
audience ever closer to believing we were watching another of our favorite
Alfred Hitchcock Presents stories - only this time, on stage.
Pauline is no newcomer to the LT, having appeared in The Octette Bridge
Club and Greetings. And her credentials in music and theatre
are extensive. She has an wide-ranging community theatre background in
England, Canada and the U.S. She is certified in drama, piano and voice
through the London College of Music. She has performed at the Daytona
Playhouse in Moon Over Buffalo, Mame, Ten Little
Indians, Lend Me A Tenor, and Murder is a Game.
Locally, she is a member of the "Party of Four" Mixed Barbershop
And last, but definitely,
not least, Dottie Hughes, our beloved LT President, proved
once again that she's as versatile as anyone on the LT stage. She popped
in and out of scenes as Jenny, the maid, and spooked just about everyone
in the cast as well as in the audience - right up to the end when she
appears from behind the bookcase... Well, I'm not going to give the ending
away. Dottie's previous LT performances include her three-some little
red wagon Opal series, The Mouse Trap, Barefoot
in the Park, Squabbles, You know I Can't Hear You When
The Water's Running, and No Sex Please. As a director, she's
produced Rollin' With The Rock, Don't Dress For Dinner,
The Sensuous Senator, The Amorous Ambassador, and The
Silver Whistle. She has also directed at the Daytona Playhouse.
was Stage Manager for the production. Estie is an active LT volunteer.
She sits on our Board of Directors and is our Secretary. Estie has been
a house manager, usher and has been stage manager for Send Me No Flowers,
Ballyhoo and Greetings.
Others behind the scenes were Ann
Knadle, Set Decoration; Camille Dickinson and
Kim Dodds, Properties; Rose Dingas and
Ruth Stammen, Costumes; Josh Lyon and
Bill Roehrborn, Lights and Sound, Karin Jenkins,
Make-up; David Jenkins and Hairlines Salon, Hair; Dottie
Hughes, Publicity; Dottie Hughes, Nancy
Linn and Susan Bradley, Programs; and Photography
by Tom Wood.
This was Spencer Meehl's premier as an LT Director. He
is a veteran LT performer, having appeared here in Greetings,
Dial M for Murder, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and Norman,
Is That You? He has also appeared at Daytona Playhouse in God's
Favorite and The Sex Lives of Superheroes. I believe Spencer's
words, which were included in the Play Program, are worth repeating here
- they say a lot about what he brought to this performance as its Director:
"Alfred Hitchcock once said that there is no terror in the bang,
only in the anticipation of it. How true this is. I must admit that I
am a sucker for a good scare. To me, there's nothing more exciting than
knowing that something evil lurks behind every shadow - not knowing for
sure when it's going to pop out of the darkness and send your heart racing.
"When I first read House on the Cliff, I remember sitting quietly,
smiling, as every page seemed to bring a new twist and turn on this path
which the story was leading me. I knew from that moment that if we could
bring that same sense of fear and anticipation to the stage, we would
all be a part of something truly magical.
"In live theatre, once in a while you are lucky enough to have a
great ensemble cast such as this one. Each member has put his or her heart
and soul on display in preparing for this show. They have had numerous
obstacles thrown in their way, from me changing my mind on a daily basis
to losing one of the cast members with only three weeks left before opening
night. Yet every cast and crew member has risen again and again to each
new challenge. I want all of them to know how much I appreciate their
incredible effort and support.
"Tonight's show is ephemeral, because every audience is different.
It is my hope that each performance brings us together in the common fear
that when the lights go out and the noises begin to surround us, that
nothing is ever what it seems. We hope you are entertained by tonight's
show, and perhaps a little frightened. Enjoy."
Smyrnans can usually find Bill Cook wandering
about town looking for a story of interest to the folks in our locale.
Maybe yours will be his next tale. You can write to him at PO Box 1029,
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170 or send e-mail to Bill.Cook@GCO.COM.