Combine window theater with an outdoor audience and a scary theme that isn’t pandemic-related, and you have “Haunted,” a spooky themed classic in keeping with Halloween, which continues its run through Oct. 31 at the Open Book Theatre Company.
The actors perform behind the theater’s lobby window, while the audience watches from chairs in the parking lot or from their cars, with speakers amplifying the actors’ lines.
“We love Halloween, and wanted to create a fun and safe way for everyone to enjoy the spooky season,” Artistic Director Krista Schafer Ewbank said.
The show has two versions: An earlier version, which is family friendly, and a later showing, which is scarier, with more stage blood.
The first version features Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and runs under 30 minutes, while the second version adds Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”
Sarah Hawkins Rusk, who directed and adapted the stories, said in addition to exploring the darkness of scarier stories, “Haunted” provides a way for theater to adapt to the frightfulness of COVID-19.
“Window Theatre has pushed us to rethink how theater is done, and I’m very excited to be working with a company that understands that theater needs to change to accommodate this new pandemic reality, but can still bring stories and entertainment to audiences,” Rusk said. “‘Haunted’ is a retelling of some of our favorite Halloween stories, with the twist of incorporating shadow puppets to function as set, atmosphere and additional actors.”
During the show’s opening weekend, audience members were excited to be experiencing live theater again, and referred to the show as “compelling and fun,” “mesmerizing,” and “a Halloween treat.”
Tickets for the earlier, family friendly version of “Haunted” are $15 for a socially distanced seat near the window, or $30 for a car. The later show, “Extra Haunted,” runs $20 a seat, and $40 for a car.
OBTC is at 1621 West Road, in Trenton. For tickets or more information, call 734-288-7753 or go to openbooktc.com.
SCP PRESENTS ONE NIGHT, ONLINE VERSION OF ‘THE LARAMIE PROJECT’
Southgate Community Players will present an online staged dramatic reading of Moisés Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project’s “The Laramie Project” for one day only, Oct. 17, for $15, with streaming access available through checkout.square.site/buy/672JDB65KCJOKZO5ULPM6I7D.
The play is based on the true story of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, who was savagely beaten and later died, which drew attention to the lack of hate crime laws in some states, including Wyoming, where it occurred.
Directed by Sydnee Corbin of Southgate and Josie Stec of Wyandotte, the ensemble includes: Allen Park residents Ashley Blevins and Brecken Millner; Dearborn residents Julie Ballantyne Brown, Paul Bruce, James Kirwan and Kyle Tillman; Dearborn Heights residents Sebastian Adams, Amanda Chatila and Cory Shorter; Jordan McAllister of Detroit; Domingo Guzman of Melvindale; Southgate residents Don Corbin, Sydnee Corbin, Phillip Rauch and Chris Rollet; Dylan Hart of Taylor; Jema McCardell of Trenton; Ashley Gatesy of Westland; Leah Karagosian of Waterford Township and Wyandotte residents Lonnie Curri, Josie Stec and Mike Stec.
Co-Director Corbin said the show is as relevant today as when it was first produced 20 years ago.
“With all of the current social unrest, now seems like the perfect time to reintroduce Matthew’s story to the world,” she said. “I hope audiences can see that even when something doesn’t affect you personally, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.”
Co-Director Stec said “The Laramie Project” is one of the most unique, powerful and beautiful plays she has ever read.
“It is unflinching and heartbreaking, but also restorative and uplifting,” she said. “The writing lends itself to creative staging and casting, so choosing to direct a virtual staged reading of ‘Laramie’ seemed like a perfect fit.”
Bruce said the show, an emotionally compelling piece, has helped to change the perceptions of many people about the value and dignity the LGBTQIA+ community deserves, and is especially important now, when factions are flaunting their bigotry.
“A show like this reminds those of us on the right side of history how to remain strong, stand steadfast and live to fight another day,” he said. “I can’t wait for audiences to see us working in tandem, under these incredibly tricky circumstances, to keep theater alive and vital, while performing a piece so relevant and important.”