Surrey’s Naked Stage Readers Theatre company launches its six-play season with a Halloween-week ghost story.
With a cast of four, Colleen McGoff Dean directs The Ghost in the Meadows’ three-show run at Newton Cultural Centre from Friday to Sunday (Nov. 1-3).
Joe Simonelli’s script follows two sisters (Chelsey Moore as Sheila and Shonna Morgan as Kylie) as they relocate from Manhattan to an old farm house in upstate New York, where they experience strange occurrences that indicate they are not be alone in the house. They call on the services of a psychic (Joan Koebel, as Antoinette) to try to quell the restless spirits. Also in the picture is Sheila’s sometimes-boyfriend Julian, a cop played by Michael Paulse.
As with all Naked Stage shows, only scripts and chairs are required for the actors – no costumes or sets, only a lit “naked” stage.
The Ghost in the Meadow is based on the legend of the Blue Boy of Gettysburg.
“I like it because it’s a good ghost story and also a relationship story,” McGoff Dean said, “and it involves a psychic who is not a caricature, she’s a professional and very grounded. So she talks about the difference between ghosts and demons, so there’s little bits of education in there too. It’s a nice script.”
McGoff Dean said that with Simonelli’s story, it’s a little tricky to evoke a scary atmosphere, “because that has to be done just so, or it can be comical,” she explained.
“And I’m really impressed with the cast, because they get the nuances and build the scary things,” she added. “And we do have a few sound effects in this show, which we typically don’t rely on with our readers theatre shows. And we have our creepy music, too – spooky piano music.”
Actors Moore and Koebel both reside in Vancouver, while Morgan lives in Cloverdale and Paulse calls Surrey Central home.
Koebel, Morgan and Moore are all new to Naked Stage, but Paulse counts The Ghost in the Meadow as his second show with the company, following last spring’s staging of Alabama Story.
“I have been, for a long time, a very introverted person,” Paulse said prior to the start of a recent rehearsal, “and the Naked Stage has allowed me to understand the power of voice, how the change in inflection and tone can really bring about an entire mood. In developing your character you try to deliver your line in different ways to find the one that’s kind of consistent with your character, and that’s given me a fair amount of confidence in my voice, being able to, not really persuade but perhaps convey a meaning more purposefully, because I’m aware of that power now.”
A copywriter by trade, Paulse said the experience with Naked Stage has given him the confidence to try acting on stage in a full production. “And it’s helped me improve my work (in copywriting), too,” he said, “because I understand getting into character before I try to communicate through my writing.”
The Ghost in the Meadow will be staged at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and in a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Newton Cultural Centre is located at 13530 72nd Ave., Surrey. For show tickets and more details, visit nakedstage.net.
Single-show tickets are $18, or $15 for groups of six or more. Season tickets are $60 for all five shows, and are available until Nov. 3.
Looking ahead, other shows in Naked Stage’s 2019-20 season are A Christmas Carol (staged Dec. 6 to 8), Francois Archambault’s You Will Remember Me (Feb. 28-March 1), Bettine Manktelow’s Murder by Default (April 24-26) and The Hallelujah Girls (June 5-7).