LIFE: ‘Trick or Treat’ production hands out laughs

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Most places go in for scary when Halloween rolls around, but the Festival Playhouse likes to shoot for something else.

Laughs.

The theater’s latest production, “Trick or Treat” by Tim Kelly, delivers a few frights, but mostly smiles as it takes audiences on a trip to a haunted bed and breakfast.

“Trick or Treat” plays at the theater, 5665 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., through Oct. 27. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

“When looking at Halloween everyone does scary,” said Charles Ault, director and owner of the Playhouse. “We instead look for things that are funny and maybe just a little scary. Something good for families.”

The story of “Trick or Treat” takes place in Salem Farms, Mass., in an old house that the Putnams, Jonathan (David Cervera) and Hildegarde (Catherine Erhardt), have purchased to turn into a bed and breakfast. They’ve sunk all their money into the house, and need a good opening — on Halloween, of course — to get the business going.

Their neighbors turn out to be a bit on the crazy side, like Hepzibah Bradwick (Donna Sweet Ault), a self-styled good witch. Their worst neighbor actually lives under the house, a remnant of Puritan days.

Endecott (Jim Hoover) is a scarecrow man created by the house’s builder, who believes the house is his and has been creating all matter of supernatural phenomena to scare owners out of the house for centuries. He delivers an ultimatum to the Putnams — get out of the house by midnight on Halloween or suffer the consequences.

Toss in an escaped killer from the nearby prison and a few mistaken identities, and it’s a recipe for some madcap laughter.

“Everyone in Salme Farms is a little crazy, so there are a lot of fun character to play with,” Charles said. “We have four new actors with us for this show, two of whom have never been on the stage before.”

One of those new people is Darlene Dennison, who plays Florence Kellaway. Florence owned the house before Endecott scared her away, and the whole affair has left her pretty shaken.

“She’s afraid of her own shadow, so of course she’s afraid of everyone else’s too,” Dennison said. “She’s a very nervous type, and keeps trying to tell everyone what’s going on in the house, but nobody listens.”

Dennison said she’s always wanted to be in a play, and getting to know all the different people and personalities at the Festival Playhouse has been a lot of fun.

“Everyone has been very supportive and helpful, and they all share very generously,” she said.

Morgan Gates, who plays convict Torchy Blaze, recently moved here from Florida and also joined the cast as an effort to meet new people. It’s also the firs time acting for Kali Heronema, who plays house maid Becky Pratt.

The Festival Playhouse is the only place Hoover has acted at, and he’s been featured regularly since 1982.

“They got me hooked and I’ve been here ever since,” he said.

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