Theatre Cedar Rapids offers fun, fear on 2 stages

Audiences are invited to join butler Wadsworth (John Miersen) at a remote mansion, where six mysterious guests have assembled for an unusual dinner party. Murder and blackmail are on the menu. When their host turns up dead, they all become suspects in "Clue." The madcap antics unfold in the Theatre Cedar Rapids auditorium from Oct. 12 to 29, 2023. (Javier Ducker)

Creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky. Phrases normally ascribed to the Addams Household additionally completely describe what Theatre Cedar Rapids is stirring in its caldron for some Halloween spirit.

“Clue” on the mainstage and “The Girl in Black” within the Grandon Studio are poles aside, however will make for a toothsome twosome from Oct. 12 to 29.

On a scare scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “Younger Frankenstein” and 10 being TCR’s 2019 “Dracula” starring Matthew James, “Clue” director Mic Evans of Cedar Rapids charges his kooky present at a 3, and “Girl in Black” director Patrick Du Laney of Iowa Metropolis places his spooky present at a top-of-the-line 10.

Should you go

What: “The Girl in Black”

The place: Grandon Studio, Theatre Cedar Rapids, 102 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids

When: Oct. 12 to 29; 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday; exceptions: 2:30 and seven:30 p.m. Oct. 22, 28 and 29; Oct. 13 is bought out

Tickets: $27 to $35 adults, $15 college students; TCR Field Workplace, (319) 366-8591 or

What: “Clue”

The place: Theatre Cedar Rapids auditorium, 102 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids

When: Oct. 12 to 29; 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $18 to $45; TCR Field Workplace, (319) 366-8591 or

“What I really like about it although, is you’ll be able to have a good time the spooky season in two other ways,” Evans mentioned. “You’ve received the horror, after which absolutely the jump-scare that’s ‘The Girl in Black,’ after which you’ll be able to come upstairs and it’s this madcap (comedy).

“It’s nonetheless tense, it’s nonetheless a homicide thriller and there are moments of campy blood and gore — but it surely’s all rooted in humor and pointing fingers at one another, which is nice,” Evans mentioned, noting “Clue” is acceptable for ages 13 and up.

“Speak about one thing for everyone at Theatre Cedar Rapids.”

It’s the homicide half that makes Evans fee his present at 3 on the scare scale.

“However it’s enjoyable homicide,” he mentioned. “Nobody’s going to essentially jump-scare you. However there will probably be moments the place the thunder will clap and also you may need a little bit backbone tingle.”

He’s working together with his sound designer to get the thunder at simply “the precise decibel” to shake the constructing “a little bit bit.”

Arthur Kipps (Kevin Burford left) and The Actor (Ryan Shellady) enact a ghost story in "The Woman in Black." Set in the moors of early 20th century England, play will be staged in the Grandon Studio at Theatre Cedar Rapids from Oct. 12 to 29, 2023. (Javier Ducker)

The Girl in Black

Du Laney rated “The Girl in Black” on the identical stage because the current “Dracula,” which created considered one of TCR’s scariest theatrical experiences, additionally staged within the subterranean Grandon Studio.

“There’s the jump-scare horror, after which there’s the creeping dread horror. And this can be a creeping dread,” Du Laney mentioned of the ghost story, which debuted in England in 1987.

It’s a play-within-a-play, the place Arthur Kipps (Kevin Burford) hires The Actor (Ryan Shellady, in his TCR debut) to assist him learn aloud a manuscript Kipps has written about an expertise he had within the early twentieth century. The Actor will play the younger Kipps, and the writer will painting all the opposite roles.

Younger Kipps is a lawyer from London who’s touring to the northern area to sift by means of the papers of a just lately deceased, reclusive girl who lived in Eel Marsh Home, which occurs to have a cemetery close by.

As Kipps meets the townspeople, he hears tales of a ghostly, younger girl in black. Those that see her appeared doomed to die.

The time-hopping facet provides Du Laney, his forged and designers a number of latitude in setting the present. Since all of them love the look of England’s Edwardian interval, they’re retaining the motion to that point proper earlier than the outbreak of World Warfare I.

It helps that the story is about within the moors of northern England — the haunting location for a lot of a thriller and creepy story. They’re “fully disorienting,” Du Laney mentioned.

“While you add the grayness of the bottom and the grayness of the ocean and the grayness of the sky, unexpectedly it is extremely tough to know the place you’re, aside from the precise place that you simply’re standing.”

Creativeness is a robust drive on stage and in actual life, and this script faucets into viewers’ imaginations all through, with a number of “think about if you’ll” cues from the narration.

The 2 males are assembly in an previous rehearsal room beneath an previous Victorian theater.

“So principally, the set is no matter you would possibly discover in an unused rehearsal room, was the assorted locales,” Du Laney mentioned. “After which sure, lighting goes to play a significant half.”

He credit scenic designer Lucie Greene with creating an immersive, claustrophobic atmosphere that can envelop viewers members earlier than the present even begins.

“The opposite main storytelling system is a gigantic soundscape on this present,” Du Laney mentioned. “And in some ways, sound is the first medium for letting us know the place we’re and what we’re doing all through the play. As soon as it begins, it virtually by no means stops, so even with a loud farce occurring upstairs, we gained’t be too disturbed.”

And if Evans will get his want to make the constructing shake throughout “Clue,” all the higher for the present occurring concurrently within the theater’s underbelly.

Ghost tales add an additional chill issue to the occasions during which we’re dwelling, Du Laney mentioned.

“Particularly now that almost all of us lead such secular lives, no matter your explicit beliefs, or your religion. We get so tunnel visioned into our mind — stand up, get to work, do the factor, feed the canine, get the children to highschool — the banality of life that occurs to all of us, that unexpectedly we’re confronted with ‘different.’ After we are confronted with ‘surprise,’ it actually drives us up brief,” he mentioned.

“And then you definately add to the truth that risk that this ‘different’ or this ‘surprise’ is just not pleasant, I feel it simply sends your thoughts spinning.”

A colorful cast of characters romp through the stage version of "Clue" in the Theatre Cedar Rapids auditorium from Oct. 12 to 29, 2023. (Javier Ducker)


“Within the Grandon Studio, you’ll be able to’t hear what’s occurring upstairs within the auditorium,” Evans mentioned. “I’m actually to see what occurs when folks get out of their exhibits and there is some crossover between the horror downstairs in ‘The Girl in Black’ and the people who depart laughing from ‘Clue.’ I am questioning what the audiences will really feel like developing out of the 2 completely different areas.”

Numerous variations of “Clue” are swirling within the theatrical realm, however TCR is presenting the non-musical script that’s closest to the 1985 film that starred Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Lesley Ann Warren and different A-list actors.

Evans is directing his personal A-list of TCR actors, together with John Miersen as Wadsworth, Lauren Galliart as Miss Scarlet, Carrie Pozdol as Mrs. Peacock, Brian Smith as Professor Plum and Greg Smith as Col. Mustard.

The enduring characters from the board sport are there, together with the potential homicide weapons: a candlestick, dagger, lead pipe, gun, rope and wrench. All gadgets with which “you can bludgeon somebody,” Evans mentioned.

The enjoyable is available in attempting to determine whodunnit, with what and the place. Not one of the company invited to Boddy Manor are good folks, so everyone seems to be suspect.

“I hold attempting to take this acquainted factor, making it brand-new, and giving it a life another way,” he mentioned, including that whereas many of the forged has seen the film, he has forbidden them from re-watching it till after their play opens.

When one of many forged members was scuffling with enjoying somebody “who was not a very good human,” he supplied these phrases of knowledge:

“I used to be like, ‘Properly, then you definately get to lean into that for the present. Is not it type of enjoyable to play somebody who’s not the very best human being, and but nonetheless give them moments of heroism and doing their greatest although they’re not the very best?’

“If I didn’t have this cherub face, I might play extra villains,” he mentioned.

Regardless that that is Evans’ first time directing a TCR mainstage present, which he admits is a little bit intimidating, he’s acted in loads of them. And because the theater’s training director, he has loads of methods in his toolbox to mesh together with his veteran actors.

“It’s a house theater for lots of people, and I’ve labored with a whole lot of these actors as an actor myself. So realizing their toolbox and my toolbox, we’ve been in a position to create a very cool collaborative area,” he mentioned. “They’ve been supportive of me, and I feel I’ve been in a position to construct an area the place I will be like, ‘Hey, I do know what you are able to do, let’s give you a 5 completely different concepts and make one thing occur.’

“It’s been a whole lot of enjoyable, and TCR has created a very nice area for me, as a younger director, to construct my abilities. … I felt very supported.”

One massive process for Evans and his forged includes getting a deal with on all of the bodily humor, so nobody will get harm, and might discover issues they will do again and again in the course of the run of the present.

“On the finish of the day, this present is simply enjoyable for enjoyable’s sake,” he mentioned.

He advises viewers to “come into our area able to snicker and able to get pleasure from an evening of madcap, campy comedy.”

“I haven’t laughed this a lot in a rehearsal room in a really very long time. They’re in a position to simply play on stage,” he mentioned of his forged. “Each present will probably be completely different as a result of they’re simply enjoying with each other, and that’s enjoyable, as a result of they’re discovering new moments every single day.

“I feel that these actors getting to simply do what they do greatest is the very best factor that Theatre Cedar Rapids presents our neighborhood.”

Feedback: (319) 368-8508; [email protected]

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