For their annual Halloween celebration of ghouls and ghosts, Stage 43 Theatrical Society has a new show that offers a comedic spin on spooky classics.
The Creature Creeps!, the first show of Stage 43’s 2019–2020 season, is halfway through its run at Coquitlam’s Evergreen Cultural Centre, with four more shows from Oct. 23–26. Written by American playwright Jack Sharkey, the show is a farcical comedy, using a classic Hollywood horror backdrop to conjure mirth rather than fear.
A night of fun
“I read the script and thought it was just such a fun piece,” says Miles Lavkulich, the play’s director. “When I made my pitch to [Stage 43] about my vision of the piece, I wanted to keep it loose and fun and play up the humour as much as we could.”
Set in a Transylvanian castle at the turn of the 20th century, mad scientist Donald Von Blitzen’s latest experiment is interrupted by his daughter, who returns from college with some friends. Various hijinks ensue, and Lavkulich feels this production is a perfect fit for the season.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” he says, “especially around this time of year when everyone gets so busy… kids are back in school, Halloween is coming and people want to just have a bit of a laugh.”
And Lavkulich aims to cause more than just a bit of laughter. He earnestly describes the show as both silly and campy, with a vibe that will hopefully leave a smile on the face of everyone who attends.
“You’re taking people who should definitely not be in a haunted house and putting them in one,” he says. “Everyone in the family can come to the show, anybody who wants to have some fun.”
Fresh and engaging
Lavkulich is effusive in his praise for the team that has assembled this show with him, including those behind the scenes and in production. This is his first time working with Stage 43, and he said he is very happy with the experience.
“We’ve had a ton of support from everybody at Stage 43, and we ended up with this wonderful cast that just dove into everything. Even now there’s last minute changes, and they’re like ‘sure, let’s go with it.’”
Going into initial rehearsals, Lavkulich had a general idea of the direction he wanted the show to head, but he didn’t have a plan of exactly what was going to happen. With a fairly large cast of twelve actors, he said he’s made sure to be open to input from everyone involved in the production.
“You have to trust your actors,” he says. “I think it’s much better to really work with the talented people you have and let them bring their creativity to the script.”
Rehearsals began back in August, and for Lavkulich and the cast, the script and the show has remained fresh and funny the whole way through. Given how much time he has spent time reading and thinking about the show’s contents, Lavkulich sees that staying power as a really good sign for their performances.
“Even now we’re still laughing hysterically at some sections of the show,” he says. “I’ve heard these lines for two months straight, and I’m still laughing… it’s a good thing when you’re doing a comedy and you’re this far along and people are still really into it all.”
Lavkulich was unable to pick out a favourite part of the show, as he felt that there are too many moments to choose from. He hopes those who attend the show will take away that same joy he has, and that it will stick with them through Halloween and beyond.
“I hope people leave with a smile on their face,” he says, “and that a week later they’re still quoting the show and giggling to themselves.”
For more information, visit www.stage43.org.