– Need an escape from politics?
Brandon High School students and Play Director Jeff Malicke present “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” with performances at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17, 18, and 19 at the Performing Arts Center, 1025 S. Ortonville Road.
“It’s a spoof on suspense, mystery, thriller, who-dun-its,” said Malicke. “It’s in the same vein of Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None.’ It’s funny.”
The BHS teacher provides this synopsis of the play:
“Weird playwright Sebastian Sly, author of such all-time bombs as “Dial M for Morose,” “The Cat and the Canard,” and “Ten Little Ninjas,” lives in a creepy old mansion called The Shadows. His arch enemy is the clever, but snide, drama critic Sylvia Frye. She hates stage thrillers and with her ruthless reviews, has forced Sebastian into retirement. In revenge, Sebastian invites her to his home where all manner of chills and thrills are trotted out to convince her she’s wrong about his work. We meet an hilarious “cast:” the murderous Creeper; an old actress noted for her shattering screams; a butler named Skull and a housekeeper named Bones and that’s just the beginning. Two likeable innocents, Zip and Lilac, show up and are terrorized by the insane goings-on. Ultimately, Sylvia exposes the plot. But Sylvia gets hers in the end!”
Malicke chose the lesser-known play as something fun to do. It is unique in that the cast of 12 students has no frame of reference for performances, unlike previous plays “Robin Hood” or “Pride and Prejudice.” They are free to portray the characters however they like, with creativity encouraged.
The small cast is new for Malicke and he is enjoying the close-knit camaraderie and an ensemble that allows equal time for characters.
“They are playing to their strengths and their personalities come out,” he said.
This is the tenth production for BHS senior Avery Bills, who plays Zip Whittle.
“I like that my character is similar to me— a sophomore version of me with more insecurities, attention-seeking and joke making,” he said. “He is funny— relatable and scared, but willing to put aside cowardice to help out his cousin and sacrifice for others.”
Bills is excited about how the production will encompass the venue, with a chase scene that involves the entire audience. The set on stage is also amazing, he adds. The set was built by Rison Construction, a local company.
Jenna Cornea, a BHS senior, will mark “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” as her twelfth production. In it, she will play Velma Cringe and for the role, she practiced screaming— in a barn and a garage, and “freaked out” her brothers.
“I am excited to scare the audience,” she said. “In one scene, I let them (screams) all loose.”
The play is suspenseful, yet hilarious, adds Cornea.
All the costumes in the play were designed by BHS student Audrey Barrett-McCartney.
Malicke hopes to see large audiences at the play. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5 each evening.
“I think theater is about bringing out the best in all of us,” said Malicke. “Each of us have a role and work together well.”