or Email us:
Click Here


The Little Theatre




If you'd like to make a tax-deductible contribution to
the Little Theatre, please
click here




Local Raconteur

'House On The Cliff'

Mystery/Comedy by George Batson
October 25-27 & October 31-November 3, 2002

Director: Spencer Meehl

Cast & Director of House On The Cliff

et 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.

Michael 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 School.

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 in Yonkers.

Charismatic Pauline 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 Quartet.

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.

Estie Keyes 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.


Copyright 2002 the Little Theatre of New Smyrna Beach, Inc.