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Q&A with our Co-Chairs 

We hosted a Q&A with our Co-Chairs for you to 

Can you share a favorite childhood memory related to the performing arts that influenced your passion for theater?

J: The first time that I saw the Phantom of the Opera in Toronto, it blew my mind. I want to say I was about 5 years old, and at that point in life, I pretty much embraced one thing at a time in life 100% and lived my life by it. I ended up having my birthday party themed after it, and people had to walk down the basement stairs through bats and candles. Everyone got a cheap plastic half mask to wear.

K: Growing up, I never felt like I excelled at anything. I wasn’t super smart or a great singer. I was taller than everyone and always felt very graceless. In 5th grade, I was cast as the lead in Really Rosie (a children’s play). The fact that I was chosen made me feel that I was perfect for something, even though I was an “imperfect” kid. It led me to understand that theater truly is a place for diversity, and everyone belongs.

 

What drew you to get involved with the GhostLight Theatre?

J: My daughter, Erika, was going to audition for the summer production of The Sound of Music, so my family went to the It Might As Well Be Spring opening production to check it out. I was blown away by all the performances and just how professional it was.

K: It started with American Son. I saw that this theater embraces shows with difficult topics and poignant themes. The variety of risque, authentic performances that the GhostLight offers are not commonly available in a small town, and I wanted to be part of this significant movement.

 

Outside of your role at GhostLight Theatre, what are some of your hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your free time?

K: I am still an actor! I enjoy acting in movies and short films in Chicago and Detroit. I also love traveling with my family and volunteering around the community.

J: I’m at that point where my kids' activities take up the majority of my time; however, I’d say technology is my main hobby outside of that. I like tinkering with hardware, home automation, games etc. I’ve even got a smart bird camera that snaps pictures and videos of all the local wildlife in our backyard. If it’s interesting and uses 5 volts or more, I’m into it.

 

Can you share a memorable moment or production that encapsulates the spirit of GhostLight Theatre?

K: The play Once beautifully showcased what it means to be a part of a creative, passionate group. The energy, joy and genius is nothing short of magical.

J: The entire last season was pretty magical, but if I had to pick one show, it would be Cabaret. I was probably the perfect target because I was familiar with some of the big numbers but didn’t know the whole story, so I was shocked at the end when the entire stage fell over to reveal the final visual. I think it’s the unexpected that makes the GhostLight special. Every show has at least one moment that completely blows away your expectations and transports you to another world.

 

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with GhostLight Theatre so far, on a personal level?

K: I was in a play with my daughter for the first time last Christmas. It was wonderful spending quality time together, doing something we both love. She amazed me at every practice and performance, and I was so proud of her. It’s one of the most irreplaceable experiences of my life.

J: Finding ways to make things better for the hard-working people at the GhostLight means so much to me. There are many people onstage and backstage that do so much, and it’s really fun to see their faces or reactions when their work gets recognized. Sometimes, it’s just little things, and other times, it’s hard work, but I just want the people who lay it all out there to feel seen. 

If you could play any role in a theatrical production what would it be and why?

K: Easy. Miss Hannigan in Annie. Goofy, grumpy, misunderstood and lonely. She’s the epitome of the perfect children’s villain-- she’s dynamic and eventually wins your heart in the end.

J: I only have two musical theater credits to my name: The chief of police in Pirates of Penzance in 4th grade and the mayor in The Music Man. I think I’d want to reprise my role in one of those. Though, I think my voice has changed a bit, so I couldn’t pull off the solos in Pirates.

 

If you could magically transform GhostLight Theatre into any physical space imaginable, without constraints of budget or practicality, what would it look like, and how would it enhance the audience experience?

K: I could get really ridiculous with this wishlist. I would love the stage to be in the center and the seats could be programmed to move 360 degrees around the action at perfect times. You’d be able to see the show from many different angles, and the world/set would be so much more immersive. Like “theater in the round” meets “The Jetsons.” I’d also love the theater to have a retractable roof (and walls even) so you could plan “outdoor” shows but always have the option to close up if it rained. It’s beautiful when nature and art coalesce.

J: I think I’d steal a few of the craziest staging ideas that I’ve seen. I’d want the spinning floor from Hamilton. The video wall/floor from The Sphere in Las Vegas. The rigging that allows you to dance on the ceiling from Mary Poppins and an upper area large enough so that we could pull off the helicopter scene from Miss Saigon. The GhostLight has done such an amazing job wowing audiences with small scale techniques that I could only imagine what would happen with some of the big tools.

 

If GhostLight Theatre were granted one wish to change something about the world through its productions, what issue or challenge would it address, and how would it go about tackling it?

K: I honestly think we already get to do it. So many problems come from a lack of concern for other people’s difficulties and circumstances. The wonderful thing about storytelling and theater is that you get to experience life from another person’s perspective for an hour or two. Seeing the world through the lens of a different gender, age, income level or race, ultimately brings us all closer together.

J: My wish would be to make all our productions free so that everyone could come see. As they say in Cabaret, “Money makes the world go round,” so we have to charge to keep the lights on. Art is just an expensive pursuit.

 

How long have you lived in SWMI?

K: I’ve been in Saint Joseph for six years. I didn’t fall in love with the area immediately, but now I can’t imagine living anywhere else. (Originally from Paw Paw, MI) J: I moved here for Whirlpool in late 2018 from central Illinois. It was much nicer to ride out COVID on the beach rather than in the cornfields. (Originally from Troy, MI)

 

What do you think makes the GhostLight a unique theatre?

K: The obvious answer is that we are one of the only black box theaters around, so every production can look vastly different. The more meaningful answer is that we are always looking for more ways to bring the community together. We are constantly attempting to collaborate with local businesses, theaters, restaurants, and artists to provide the best experience for our patrons. We believe that high tides raise all ships in our business community.

J: I’ve seen quite a bit of “community theater” and even more productions at theaters like Drury Lane, but there is something different about the productions at GhostLight. During almost every show at GhostLight, I’ve sat next to someone who said it was their first show. Their reactions are always the same: “Where did all the actors come from?” When they find out they are mostly local performers, they say, “I had no idea we had this much talent here.” Coming from the Detroit area, I relate a lot of things to cars. The GhostLight would be what I would describe as a “sleeper” car. It has an unassuming exterior but boasts amazing performance.

 

What are you most excited about for the upcoming year?

K: THE SHOWS! THE SHOWS! THE SHOWS! There are so many exciting aspects to being part of The GhostLight, but the shows will always be #1 on my list. Our talent, volunteers, crews and staff work tirelessly to ensure each production is better than the last. Their efforts are so appreciated, and it’s the reason we can keep opening our doors every spring and entertaining our community.

J: I don’t think it’s out of line to call last year the best season of GhostLight in its history. Where do you go from there? A lot of people say the sequel is never as good, but I’ll point you to “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Godfather: Part 2”, “Terminator 2” … the list goes on. I can’t wait to see what Paul and company do with the slate this year. I’m actually really excited to see The Minutes. Usually the musicals outshine the plays, but this one is different. It was born at the Steppenwolf in Chicago. It was a victim of COVID but still managed to survive and make it all the way to Broadway. The play was even nominated for a Tony in 2022. Now, GhostLight gets to produce the regional premiere of this brand new content. 

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Theater Review: Cabaret

WMUK | By Gordon Bolar

Published June 20, 2023 at 6:29 PM EDT

Benton Harbor’s GhostLight Theatre recently opened its revival of the musical “Cabaret.” WMUK’s Gordon Bolar has this review.

First an observation. During the early Seventies, I directed a production of “Cabaret.” Although the show I put on the stage, like the current revival of “Cabaret” at GhostLight Theatre, was set at the dawn of the Nazi party in Weimar Germany, the script I worked with - and at least some of the score - contained moments of innocence and optimism to fling in the monstrous face of rising fascism. 

Director Paul Mow’s production of “Cabaret” at GhostLight is much darker, far more ominous, and in touch with the reality of the current political climate.

And now a confession: for all those reasons and more, I like this version of the script, score, and production, better than the show I directed half a century ago.

GhostLight’s version seems to take some cues from the Sam Mendes-directed revival of “Cabaret” in the 1990’s, which featured Alan Cumming as Emcee.

And it is the physical presentation and brooding presence of the Emcee, delivered in a riveting performance by Braden Allison, that lifts this character, and the show itself, into the realm of zeitgeist for an age on the precipice of genocide and global destruction. 

Unlike the tuxedo wearing, diminutive Joel Grey of “Cabaret’s” past, Allison’s tall, lithe, slinking, cross-dressing pansexual Emcee appears bare-chested, nipples painted black, wearing a bow tie pinned to the crossed suspenders of his lederhosen.

As the show opens with the spunky “Willkommen,” a white-faced Allison leers at his audience, calling them out, inviting them to drink, partake of the flesh, and forget the troubles of the world outside. The effect is edgy, seductive, and menacing.

GhostLight’s playing space undergoes an atmospheric transformation into the Kit Kat Club, a smoke-filled Berlin gin mill from the late 1920’s. The club’s dancers, male and female, moonlight as painted, lingerie clad prostitutes, while a raucous orchestra provides up-tempo, foot-tapping overtures and scintillating musical support.  

Along the way, the Emcee and the club’s Kit Kat Dancers roar through several tightly choreographed, bawdy numbers, including the raucous and incendiary, “Money, Money.” 

The club’s featured singer, Sally Bowles, played by Meggie Anderson, sets the tone with “Don’t Tell Mama.” The song is an appealing introduction with a naughty wink to the seamy crowd, as well as a nod to her own liquor-ridden, man-hopping lifestyle. 

Her first hop in the show is club pick-up Cliff Bradshaw, played by Brady West, a young American novelist looking for a room and subject matter for his next novel. Anderson’s forward and assuming Sally soon persuades Cliff that she could meet both needs with the song “Perfectly Marvelous.”   

One of the production’s most appealing aspects is a strong second couple. Cliff’s Landlady Fraulein Schneider, played by Jodie Wilson, shows us the backbone of a woman who has survived war and social upheaval in the gritty number, “So What?”

Michael Riggenbach, as Herr Schultz, brings a strong tenor to duets with Wilson in “It Couldn’t Please Me More” and “Married.”  The couple provides welcome comic relief and later a poignant note with the realization that the engagement of Schneider to a Jew has no future. 

The first act concludes with one of the show’s most powerful moments. At the outset, “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” is a seemingly innocent anthem to the future. At the end of the song, however, a chorus of party guests has morphed into a horrific mob with swastika armbands giving “Sieg Heil!” straight-arm salutes.

By the end of Paul Mow’s savvy two-and-a-half-hour production, the transformations of German society and the characters are clearly detailed. The make-up and lipstick of the prostitutes is smeared. Their come-on smiles have gone dead pan. Meggie Anderson’s Sally Bowles, formerly a free-spirited soul, delivers the title number as a washed out, emotionally broken prisoner of the Kit Kat Club. And the Emcee, who previously invited us to forget the world outside the club, now appears hollow-eyed as a different kind of prisoner.

After all, this ain’t your grandpa’s “Cabaret”.

Link to Review > https://www.wmuk.org/2023-06-20/theater-review-cabaret

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Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical

Comes Home to The GhostLight Theatre November 26th – December 11

“Filled with charm, humor and a heartfelt message.”—POST TRIBUNE

“...a million lovely life lessons wrapped in a small shiny story.” —CITY PLEASURES

​BENTON HARBOR (NOVEMBER 10, 2022) The GhostLight Theatre, Southwest Michigan’s regional theatre located in the Benton Harbor Arts District, has completed casting and is in rehearsals for its first-ever family-friendly holiday production Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical. Written by Benton Harbor resident, Denise McGowan Tracy with music by Kathleen Butler-Duplessis and McGowan Tracy and musical arrangements by David Fiorello, the 65-minute production opens Thanksgiving weekend, Saturday, November 26th with performances Saturdays at 10:30 am and 1:00 pm and on Sundays at 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm through December 11th. Tickets are on sale now at: www.GhostLightBH.com.

The GhostLight production is under the direction of Chicago-based Patrick Tierney with music direction by Lisa Van Deurzen-Otey and choreography by John Marshall, Jr. and includes a lively pre-show with fun, games and music. Following the performance, kids of all ages are invited onstage for “Selfies with Santa” at no additional charge and can take Eleanor home with show-related items including personally signed copies of McGowan Tracy’s book on which the show is based.

 

Eleanor is the story of a rag doll who lives at The North Pole and has one wish for a best friend and home of her own. With help from Santa’s elves, Eleanor realizes that wishing is not enough and you must take action to make your dreams come true. This lesson and others are sprinkled throughout the story teaching children—and reminding adults—of the importance of family and friends. The GhostLight production features the original set and costumes from the 2019 Chicago premiere that ran for 39 performances.

 

Leading the cast—and recreating the title role she originated in the critically-acclaimed Chicago premiere—is Samantha Bonzi who has appeared regionally at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, Timber Lake Playhouse, The Nordlof Center and Starlight Theatre. Her father, Todd Bonzi, plays Santa and has an extensive career as a producer, director and actor with credits at Starlight Theatre, New American Theatre, Shady Lane Theatre and through the production company he founded with wife Michelle. Kristen Wielenga appears in the role of Mrs. “Cookie” Claus with Trillium Falotico as Sprinkle, Sydney Swanson (who created the role of Noelle in the original cast) as Sparkle, Kady Roberts as Twinkle, Maureen Schlie as Clara/Holly and Elena Rupp as Noelle. Rounding out the company are Olivia Wielenga, Laura Gomez, Einra Lee Baker and Lane Alsup.

 

Tickets for Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical are on sale through EventBrite at: www.GhostLightBH.com. General admission is $17.50 per person with a special Family Fun Pack of four tickets or more priced at $15 per person. Group rates are available for 15 or more while supply lasts. Thanks to the generous support of the Boulevard Inn and Bistro in St. Joe, a special overnight hotel package that includes four show tickets and Eleanor merchandise is also available. Additional sponsorship support for this production is provided by Honor Credit, Jollay Farms, Mead & White Electric, Meijer, Kalin Construction, MailMax and individual sponsors.

 

Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish—The Musical

The GhostLight Theatre


Book by Denise McGowan Tracy
Music and Lyrics by Kathleen Butler-Duplessis and McGowan Tracy
Directed by Patrick Tierney
Music Directed by Lisa Van Deurzen-Otey
Choreography by John Marshall, Jr.

 

 

Tickets through EventBrite

 

 

Performance Schedule

 

Saturday, November 26, 2022
1:00 am & 4:00 pm [10:30 am SOLD OUT]

 

Sunday, November 27, 2022
1:00 pm & 4:00 pm

 

Saturday, December 3, 2022

10:30 am & 1:00 pm


Sunday, December 4, 2022

1:00 pm & 4:00 pm

 

Saturday, December 10, 2022

10:30 am & 1:00 pm

 

Sunday, December 11, 2022

1:00 pm & 4:00 pm

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Theater Review: "Violet" at the GhostLight Theatre

WMUK | By Gordon Bolar

August 23, 2022 - The ensemble cast of "Violet" at the GhostLight Theatre in Benton Harbor
PHOTO by Lauren Mow

 

Violet at the GhostLight Theatre in Benton Harbor is a musical depiction of a young woman’s bus ride across the mid-South in 1964. WMUK’s Gordon Bolar has this review.

Director Paul Mow’s production of Violet succeeds for several reasons. This fast-paced show features an ensemble of flexible and gifted performers, as well as the uplifting music of one of present-day theatre’s most talented composers, Jeanine Tesori. Her score is beautifully rendered through the capable musical direction of Joshua Goines. Although the show runs an hour and forty minutes without intermission, it seems much shorter. 

The production centers around the journey of Violet, a young white woman, whose face has been disfigured. The title role is brought to life by the strong vocals and physical energy of Emilie Kurtz. Although she bears the scar of an accidental injury at the hands of her father in the North Carolina backwoods, the gaze of Kurtz’s plucky character is firmly fixed on the promise of healing by a TV evangelist in Tulsa.

After boarding an Oklahoma bound Greyhound, some of those on board, including a loquacious Old Lady played by Carrie VanDenburgh, initially turn away from the ugly side of Violet’s face.

But as they begin to converse with Violet, they’re drawn in by her resilience, bright personality, and the quest for the transformation to beauty that will reward the young pilgrim’s faith. Likewise, the intricate harmonies of the bus chorus supporting Violet in “On My Way” draw the theatre audience in and make us fellow travelers.

 

Despite initially off-putting encounters with Violet, two of the passengers, both army soldiers, become suitors for her body, and later for her hand. Seamus Doyle plays Monty as a seductive and appropriately irritating, fearless white corporal, soon to be a Green Beret. 

Richard Allen III, as the black army sergeant Flick, reveals an understanding of the skin-deep, quick judgements that Violet must endure every day. Allen’s soulful and rhythmic “Let it Sing” foreshadows a different kind of transformation than the one offered by the TV evangelist. Allen’s song and his character speak to change that comes from within.     

After a stopover in Memphis and an evening of drinking and intimate encounters, the bawdy and persistent strains of “Anyone Would Do”, sung by the hookers of Beale Street, seem to examine the motivations of each soldier in the cold morning light.    

An animated Gospel choir, punctuated by the fiery interjections of Eric Thiele as the Evangelist Preacher, greets Violet when she finally reaches the promised land of the Tulsa TV studio. Although the lyrics of the spirited “Raise Me Up” reference life anew, they don’t refer to the life that Violet seeks. And the Preacher does not have the ability to change the mark on Violet’s face.

A sudden appearance by Violet’s deceased father in place of the Preacher answers Violet’s request for a miracle and provides her with an apology for injuries he inflicted.

Although this forced turn in Brian Crawley’s script seems unmotivated, it does set up the final transition of Violet’s character, effectively rendered by Emilie Kurtz.

When Violet discovers that her scar has not gone away after her father’s apology, she sends Monty off to Vietnam, refusing his attention and his offer of marriage. Flick watches quietly from afar, observing the inner change that has occurred in Violet. Her commitment to the new life and the proposal he offers is realized in her moving request, “Bring Me to Light”.               

A final note: the GhostLight Theatre decided not to show the scar on Violet’s face. Because the script and music strongly suggest that the focus should be on the lead character’s inner beauty, the producers of “Violet” clearly made the right choice. The show runs at The GhostLight Theatre in Benton Harbor through August 28, 2022.

GORDON BOLAR

A former station manager of WMUK, Gordon Bolar is now the station's theater reviewer.

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The GhostLight Theatre presents Award-winning Musical Violet

Violet

August 18-28

Music by Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics and Book by Brian Crawley
Directed by Paul Mow
Music Director Joshua Goines

 

​BENTON HARBOR (July 28, 2022) The GhostLight Theatre, Southwest Michigan’s premier regional theater located in Benton Harbor Arts District concludes the 2022 Summer Season with the award-winning musical Violet directed by GhostLight Artistic Director Paul Mow. The musical features lyrics and book by Brian Crawley (A Little Princess) and music by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Caroline, Or Change, Shrek) and is based on the book The Ugliest Pilgrim by Doris Betts. Music Director Joshua Goines returns to GhostLight. The Choreographer is Paige Mulick. Violet runs over two weekends, Thursday, August 18 and through Sunday August 28, with evening performances Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 3:00 pm in GhostLight’s intimate black box theater at 101 Hinkley Street in Benton Harbor.

 

As much a journey across America as it is a celebration of the rich and varied musical styles of folk, country, R&B, blues and gospel, Violet tells the story of a young girl (Emilie Kurtz/Hannah Winston) on a literal journey to her own enlightenment on a 1964 era bus ride westward where she hopes to receive a healing miracle from a TV evangelist. Along the way, she learns about life from the people she meets including a young black soldier named Flick (Richard Allen III), a gospel singer, Lulu (Cindy L. Goodson) and Monty (Seamus Doyle) another soldier who vies for her affections.

The popular “First Friday” AfterGlow at Bread+Bar with the cast and crew will be hosted by Tim Foley and his team at the restaurant following the August 19 performance. Bit of Swiss desserts, small bites and a cash bar will be available.

 

The cast for Violet, GhostLight’s final show of the 2022 Summer Season, includes: Emilie Kurtz, Hannah Winston, Richard Allen III, Seamus Doyle, Lucas Seven, Kelly Collins, Paige Mulick, Christian Roose, Kate Mosher, Carrie Vandenbergh, Meggie Anderson, Jonathan Clough, Eric Theale, Brady West, Alex Giorgio, Madison Jackson, Einra Baker and Abbi Kalin.

 

The Violet creative team includes: Paul Mow (Director), Joshua Goines (Music Director), Madison Jackson (Assistant Director), Paige Mulick (Choreographer) Dan Maxon (Lighting/Sound), Brooke Hare (Stage Manager), Julie Smiy (Costumes) and Madi Lee (Assistant Stage Manager).

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PicksInSix Q & A: Samuel D. Hunter "Lewiston/Clarkston"

Samuel D. Hunter
LEWISTON | CLARKSTON
PicksInSix® Q & A | Ed Tracy

 

There is an unseen, but ever-present, character’s voice that welcomes you into the first half of Samuel D. Hunter’s “Lewiston / Clarkston,” two interrelated one-act plays performed consecutively—with a dinner break at the Mason Jar Café at intermission—now being staged in an immersive, Midwest premiere at the GhostLight Theatre running through July 24 in Benton Harbor. That narrative sets the tone of exploration and discovery in director Spencer Ryan Diedrick’s production even as it poses questions about family legacy, our dreams and, ultimately, the search for real meaning in our lives.

It is that spirit of discovery that drives Marnie (Aiden Ankli)—one of the central characters in “Lewiston” who are direct relatives to explorer Meriweather Lewis—to return to the roadside home/fireworks stand of her grandmother Alice (Carol Sizer) to stake a claim for what remains of the family property. The fractured relationship between generations, often punctuated on both sides by Alice’s companion Connor (John Taylor), is crafted expertly by Hunter’s quiet, yet forceful storytelling.

In “Clarkston,” the developing relationship of two employees plays out in and around a COSTCO warehouse across the river. Jake (Christian Roose), a middle-class, educated new hire and distant relative of William Clark is suffering from a terminal disease. His workmate Chris (Lucas Seven) aspires to be a writer, but is trapped in Clarkston, unable to resolve conflicts with his mother Trish (Beth Ward) or come to terms with his own. As both yearn for discovery and fulfillment, the common ground established allows for a deeper understanding of their individual challenges and the debilitating impact of Huntington’s disease.

The GhostLight production begins with “Lewiston” staged outside in the courtyard performance space. At the intermission, patrons take the short walk along the Lewis and Cark Trail for a specially-priced dinner at The Mason Jar Café, one of the Benton Harbor Arts District’s most popular locations. Following dinner, “Clarkston” is staged in GhostLight’s black box theatre.

Samuel Hunter is a prolific playwright whose work includes the 2011 Obie Award-winning “A Bright New Boise,” the 2013 Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards for “The Whale,” and is a recipient of the prestigious 2014 MacArthur Fellowship.

In a recent email exchange, Hunter provided insight into the development of “Lewiston / Clarkston” and how the two pieces, written in 2015 and 2016 respectively, and performed first consecutively in 2019, share common values and themes.

Ed Tracy: Taken individually, “Lewiston” and “Clarkston,” each tell unique but interrelated stories that share vivid touchpoints of the human experience, our relationship to those around us and the understanding and impact of family history on our lives.

For the full article visit PICKSINSIX

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The GhostLight Theatre 2022 Summer Season Continues
with an Immersive Theatre|Dining Experience

Midwest Premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s
Lewiston/Clarkston and Dinner at the Mason Jar Café

July 14 – 24

Lewiston/Clarkston

A Diptych–Two One-Act plays performed consecutively

By Samuel D. Hunter 
Directed by Spencer Diedrick

 

​BENTON HARBOR (June 29, 2022) – The GhostLight Theatre (“GhostLight”), Southwest Michigan’s premier performing arts organization in the burgeoning Benton Harbor Arts District, continues their 2022 Summer Season with the Midwest Premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s Lewiston/Clarkston, presented in two acts directed by Spencer Diedrick with a dinner break at intermission served by The Mason Jar Cafe. The show opens on Thursday, July 14 and runs through Sunday July 24 with evening performances only at a special time—Thursday through Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

 

The two interrelated pieces by Hunter, a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship recipient, debuted in 2018 and explore the relationship between modern-day descendants of explorers Lewis and Clark in the two communities that bear their names.

As director Diedrick notes: “In the first piece, Lewiston, a roadside fireworks vendor, Alice (GhostLight veteran Carol Sizer) is weighing whether to sell the last of her inherited Idaho land to a real estate developer for the sake of her and family friend/coworker Conner (John Taylor). She is confronted by her long-estranged granddaughter, Marnie, played by Aiden Ankli who returns to Southwest Michigan from New York in her GhostLight debut, who has left a lucrative Seattle job to stake a claim for her family's legacy.  The second, Clarkston, takes place across the river in Washington, where two young men work the night shifts at the local Costco.  Jake, played by Christian Roose, is fleeing the East Coast and the hard reality of a medical diagnosis, while Chris (Lucas Seven) maintains a tenuous connection to his mother, Trisha (Beth Ward), who struggles with addiction.” 

 

"We are delighted to present Samuel Hunter’s unique work with Chicago-based director Spencer Diedrick in our Benton Harbor theater,” notes GhostLight Artistic Director Paul Mow. “The added benefit of a dining option with our neighbors and partners at The Mason Jar Café will allow our audiences to enjoy an intermission experience available only to our patrons between the two shows. We can't wait to offer this immersive experience!"

 

Adds Diedrick: “In both stories, our characters grapple with whether to belong or escape, how to accept the circumstances beyond their control—often economic—and just how difficult it is to change them.  After all, trying to do the right thing is the right thing.  The vast American landscape is filled with towns like these, and the offbeat, empathetic, relatable tales they have to tell are universal.”

 

Mature themes, adult situations and a character’s challenges with the life-threatening disease are central to the GhostLight production which will include a related discussion with representatives from the Huntington Disease Society of America (HDSA) who will participate in a special post-show talkback Q&A session on Thursday, July 21st. The Ghostlight Theatre production of Lewiston/Clarkston is sponsored by the Timothy’s Restaurant and Roni & Tom Buckley.

 

The popular “First Friday” AfterGlow at Bread+Bar with the cast and crew will be hosted by Tim Foley and his team at the restaurant following the July 15th performance. Bit of Swiss desserts, small bites and a cash bar will be available.

 

July 14 – 24

MIDWEST PREMIERE!
Lewiston/Clarkston

Show|Dinner Tickets: GhostLight – Lewiston/Clarkston|Eventbrite - $12-$28

Dinner Ticket | EventBrite (Advance Reservation Requested): $28 p.p. (inc. processing fee)

PERFORMANCE DATES
THU—SUN: July 14-17
THU—SUN: July 21-24

NOTE: SPECIAL TIME
5:30 p.m. Outdoor Theatre Cash Bar at GhostLight and at Mason Jar Café 
6:00 p.m. Curtain
In case of inclement weather, performances will be held in The GhostLight Theatre.

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Theater Review: Significant Other

WMUK | By Gordon Bolar

Published June 14, 2022 at 9:53 PM EDT

The GhostLight Theater in Benton Harbor recently opened their production of Significant Other which runs through June 19. WMUK’s Gordon Bolar has this review.

Playwright Joshua Harmon’s smart and sassy comedy offers many insights about a young gay man and his relationship with three brides to be. Last Thursday, Director Les Rorick’s well-paced, very funny production brought Harmon’s vibrant script to life on the GhostLight stage before an appreciative opening night audience.

The play’s central character, Jordan Berman, finds himself at a crossroads in his late twenties. Not only does true meaningful romance with other gay men elude him, he sees his three female BFF’s slipping away, one by one, into a marriage that will alter Jordan’s relationship with each.

Even worse, Jordan is expected to participate in and endure the obligatory three phased ritual accompanying the matrimonial bonds for each of these women: the bridal shower, the bachelorette party and the wedding itself.

This production succeeds for several reasons. First is actor Matthew Bizoe’s strong and nuanced performance as Jordan. Bizoe possess all of the vocal and physical tools necessary to generate and hold emotional interest in Harmon’s lead character for the show’s two-hour plus duration.

Bizoe is able to sustain extended, animated, rapid-fire phone narratives as Jordan’s mind shifts rapidly among thoughts and relationships. Here audience attention and focus are greatly assisted by director Rorick’s seamless transitions and Paul Stortz’s fluid lighting.

Bizoe’s portrayal of Jordan goes much deeper than the neurotic and obsessive comic figure who fights with his hand, “Evil Dead” style, in a failed attempt to prevent the appendage from hitting the “send” button, delivering a message to a heretofore secret male love interest.

In a gut-wrenching confrontation with the soon-to-be wed Laura, played by Madison Mosher, Bizoe’s character shifts gears as he confronts the loss of his most meaningful friendship and the possibility of a life alone.

One of this production’s most appealing features is the charming and frequently hilarious rendering of Jordan’s three distinctly different foible ridden female friends.

Terra Lenox, as Kiki, displays a self-obsessed, and frequently tipsy young woman who is alwaysthe life of the party and at the center of attention. Lenox’s vivacious character, relegates her gal pals, her gay guy pal, and her future husband, to supporting roles in a rambling wreck of a life that stars none other than Kiki.

In quiet contrast, the character of Vanessa, played by Laura Martin, smiles to herself as she tolerates the chaos around her, waiting to catch her future husband at Kiki’s wedding, as oblivious friends look the other way.

Madison Mosher’s Laura presents a convincing life line for Jordan, gently reigning in decisions that threaten to derail his life. Mosher’s steady performance underscores the stakes for Jordanand sets up the transformation that she challenges him to make, as she joins the ranks of his married friends.

Also effective is Carol Sizer, as the grandmother who reminds Jordan that life is a long book with many chapters.

In the play’s final scene, Bizoe’s character, alone onstage, silently watches Laura and groom as the Happy Couple is called to the floor for a wedding dance. Laura’s challenge and grandmother’s reminder are clearly realized in this carefully-crafted closing moment of offstage focus. Jordan’s face and body reflect the welcome change that has transpired: he is finally able to take joy from the happiness of others.

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Matthew Bizoe in The GhostLight Theatre production of Significant Other June 9-19 PHOTO_La
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The GhostLight Theatre 2022 Summer Season Continues June 9-19 

Significant Other 

An American play written by Joshua Harmon. 

Directed by Les Rorick 

June 9 - 19 

7:30 p.m. Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3:00 p.m. Sundays 

Special Additional Performance Saturday, June 25 8:00 p.m. Significant Other The Acorn Theatre Three Oaks, Michigan 

BENTON HARBOR (May 28, 2022) – The GhostLight Theatre (“GhostLight”), Southwest Michigan’s premier performing arts organization in the burgeoning Benton Harbor Arts District, continues their 2022 Summer Season with a production of Joshua Harmon’s Significant Other directed by Les Rorick. The show opens on Thursday, June 9 and runs through Sunday June 19 with evening performances on Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and matinees on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

Harmon’s hilarious coming-of-middle-age story is about a late 20s gay man who is struggling to cope with losing the bond with his three best female friends as they find love on their own. It’s a wry comedy set in New York City that Chicago Tribune critic Chris Jones called “a quite sophisticated exploration of the complex and changing dynamic between gay men and the women who love them.” Matthew Bizoe plays Jordan and the cast features Madison Mosher (Laura), Laura Martin (Vanessa), and Terra Lenox (Kiki). 

 “We are delighted to share this story of love and friendship with our GhostLight community,” said director Les Rorick. “This play—that we’ve been working on for two years as it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic—is a profoundly relatable, beautifully written comedy-with-heart. We believe that audiences will be moved to laughter and tears as they see the main character struggle with his fear of being alone.” 
 

The popular “First Friday” AfterGlow at Bread+Bar with the cast and crew will be hosted by Tim Foley and his team at the restaurant following the June 10 performance. Bit of Swiss desserts, small bites and a cash bar will be available. 

Tickets: GhostLight – Significant Other | Eventbrite $12-$28 Mature Themes/Parental Discretion Advised 

There will be an additional performance of Significant Other for one night only on June 25 at 8:00 p.m. The Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, Michigan. For information and reservations, visit: Significant Other -Acorn June 25 

SIGNIFICANT OTHER CAST Matthew Bizoe (Jordan), Madison Mosher (Laura); Kelly Collins (Laura-Saturday June 11); Laura Martin (Vanessa); Terra Lenox (Kiki); Joey DiMaggio (Evan-Friday/Saturday); Alex Giogorio(Evan-Thursday/Sunday); Lucas Seven(Zach/Roger); Michael Bond (Will/Conrad/Tony); Carol Sizer (Helene).

 

PRODUCTION TEAM Director: Les Rorick; Stage Manager: Brooke Hare; Assistant Stage Manager: Avery Banister; Costumer: Lia McCoskey; Dramaturg: Lucas Seven; Intimacy Choreographer: Kristina McCloskey; Lighting Designer: Paul Stortz; Photography: Lauren Mow; Production Assistants: Cecilia Petrush and Seamus Doyle; Props Assistant: Tavion Crump; Set Construction: Danny Gilligan. Pre-
 

Production Photos: GhostLight – Significant Other PHOTO CREDIT|Lauren Mow 

 

Current GhostLight Theatre Health, Safety and COVID-19 Policy. 

 

Significant Other Show Program 

GhostLight Summer Camps For All Ages! CircEsteem Camp Monday-Friday, June 20-24 Scholarships Available to Regional Students 

The GhostLight Theatre is again hosting its popular series of educational camps throughout the summer including: CircEsteem Kids (June 20-24) a day camp designed to build self-esteem & mutual respect through the practice and performance of circus arts; Discovering Your Voice By Learning to Write Like Shakespeare (July 25-29) with Ken Smith, Ph.D.; and, BEST Camp-Building Excellence through Summer Theater (June 27-July 1) a collaboration with The Citadel Dance & Music Center. 

Registrations are near capacity for CircEsteem. Scholarships are still available for interested students. Email us at: info@GhostLightBH.com or call (269) 252-5222. 

 

2022 GhostLight Summer Season

June 9 – 19 Significant Other An American play written by Joshua Harmon. 

Directed by Les Rorick 

Performances: 7:30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3pm Sundays 

Tickets: $12-$28 

NOTE: Saturday, June 25th, 8pm - Special additional performance of ‘Significant Other’ at The Acorn Theatre, Three Oaks, MI INFO 

 

July 14 – 24 

MIDWEST PREMIERE! 

Lewiston/Clarkston 

A Diptych - Two One-Act plays performed consecutively 

A play by Samuel D. Hunter. Directed by Spencer Diedrick. 

Tickets $12-28 (Show Only|Dinner Separate) NOTE: Special Time - 6pm Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun Evening includes a separately priced dinner option at The Mason Jar between shows. 

 

August 18 - 28 

Violet 

Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics and Book by Brian Crawley. 

Based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts 

Directed by Paul Mow. Music directed by Joshua Goines 

Performances: 7:30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3pm Sundays 

Tickets: $12-$28 

NOTE: Wed August 24-Special Performance -The Dunes Arts Foundation in Michigan City, IN INFO 

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The GhostLight Theatre’s 2022 Summer Season Open May 19th New Sign to be Unveiled

Season Opening Production

LITTLE WOMEN
May 19 through 29


Book by Allan Knee
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein

Music by Jason Howland
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott


Directed by David Derrell
Music Directed by Marty Hesse

 

BENTON HARBOR (May 11, 2022) – The GhostLight Theatre (“GhostLight”), Southwest Michigan’s premier performing arts organization in the burgeoning Benton Harbor Arts District, opens their 2022 Summer Season with the musical “Little Women” based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Louisa May Alcott. The show debuts on Thursday, May 19 and runs through Sunday May 29 with evening performances Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and matinee on Sunday at 3:00 pm.

Originally written to chronicle the lives of four sisters in the aftermath of the Civil War, GhostLight’s director David Ferrell sets the production during the Vietnam era in the wake of the Women’s Right’s Movement in America. It’s the story of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March, and their beloved mother Marmee, at home in Concord, Massachusetts, while their father is away serving in the military. “Little Women” a fabled tale for the whole family, features a touching score and vignettes in which the women’s lives unfold within the short stories Jo writes in her attic studio, that will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for something greater, to be something more than themselves and to know what it is like to feel bound by the norms of society, but still overcome.
 

“What is so incredible about the story of Little Women is that it is timeless, said director David Ferrell. “It can be set in any time and in any place. These women are real people and are based on real stories. I just happened to choose the 70s to base our production because it was an era that women started to predominantly move forward in society, breaking free from traditional norms, and, seeking happiness in the foundations of what they were creating. The women of which our story takes place; these characters are changing the world in their own ways and should be reflections of all women who have come before them. When envisioning how I wanted to portray these characters, these women, their triumphs, and struggles; I was reminded of a poem by Rupi Kaur which begins “let it go, let it leave, let it happen” and those moments rang true in what our heroine “Jo” March aspires to do for herself, her career, and for her family. She sets out to follow her dreams, realizes simple truths about love and loss, and overcomes. In doing so, she creates more beauty in the world!”

"We are very excited to kick off our summer season with the wonderful, family-friendly musical classic Little Women, directed by David Ferrell," said Paul Mow, Artistic Director. "David has brought together a hard-working group of talented perforrmers from across our region along with our terrific GhostLight interns to bring this story to life through these beautiful songs. We hope you'll bring the entire family, as this is a show not to be missed!!"
 

The popular “First Friday” AfterGlow parties will again be held this summer at the Bread+Bar thanks to Tim Foley and his team at the restaurant. Bit of Swiss desserts and small bites will be available to celebrate along with the cast and crew of the show.

Tickets: GhostLight - Little Women | Eventbrite  $12-$28


Summer Camps

GhostLight is also hosting educational camps throughout the summer including: CircEsteem Kids (June 20-24) a day camp designed to build self-esteem & mutual respect through the practice & performance of circus arts; Discovering Your Voice By Learning to Write Like Shakespeare (July 25-29) with Ken Smith, PhD; and, BEST Camp-Building Excellence through Summer Theater (June 27-July 1), a collaboration with The Citadel Dance & Music Center.

For more information, visit: www.ghostlightbh.com or call Ed Tracy at (312) 965-4834.

The GhostLight Theatre, an innovative playhouse with a mission to enlighten, inspire,
and illuminate Benton Harbor and the surrounding region,
is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

101 Hinkley Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022

GhostLightBH.com      269-252-5222

 

2022 GhostLight Summer Season

May 19 – 29, 2022
Little Women

Book by Allan Knee, Music by Jason Howland, Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein.
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott.
Director: David Ferrell
Music Director: Marty Hesse
Performances: 7:30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3pm Sundays
Tickets: $12-$28

 

June 9 – 19

Significant Other

An American play written by Joshua Harmon.

Directed by Les Rorick

​Performances: 7:30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3pm Sundays

Tickets: $12-$28

NOTE: Saturday, June 25th, 8pm - Special additional performance of ‘Significant Other’ at The Acorn Theatre, Three Oaks, MI INFO

 

July 14 – 24

MIDWEST PREMIERE!

Lewiston/Clarkston 

A Diptych - Two One-Act plays performed consecutively

A play by Samuel D. Hunter. 
Directed by Spencer Diedrick.

Tickets
NOTE: Special Time - 6pm Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun
Evening includes a separately priced dinner option between shows. Call for reservations.

August 18 - 28

Violet

Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics and Book by Brian Crawley.

Based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts

Directed by Paul Mow. Music directed by Joshua Goines

Performances: 7:30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3pm Sundays

Tickets: $12-$28

 

NOTE: Wed August 24-Special Performance -The Dunes Arts Foundation in Michigan City, IN   INFO

 

For more information, visit: www.ghostlightbh.com or call Ed Tracy at (312) 965-4834. The GhostLight Theatre, an innovative playhouse with a mission to enlighten, inspire, and illuminate Benton Harbor and the surrounding region, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

101 Hinkley Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022

GhostLightBH.com      269-252-5222

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GhostLight Theatre Announces Ed Tracy as
Interim Executive Director

BENTON HARBOR, MI (April 29, 2022) Southwest Michigan’s The GhostLight Theatre (“GhostLight”), a premier performing arts organization in the burgeoning Benton Harbor Arts District, announced today the appointment of Ed Tracy as interim Executive Director. Ed takes over from Co-Founder and Executive Director, Marty Hesse, who is relocating out of the area after five successful years in the position. 

Tracy brings a strong background in executive management of arts and cultural organizations, most recently as President of Roxbury Road Creative, LLC and previously, President/CEO and long-time program host of the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago.. In addition to wide-ranging experience in fundraising and executive leadership, strong interpersonal and personnel management skills, Tracy has been writing about and reviewing theatre in Chicago for many years. He and his wife Denise McGowan Tracy, an event producer, playwright and performer, moved to Benton Harbor last year.

 

GhostLight’s Board of Directors President, Brett Lutz, said, "GhostLight is thankful for all that Marty has done as co-founder and executive director to launch our vision of bringing together a community in active participation with the arts. This theater continues to draw some of the best talent, artistic partnerships and arts-based educational opportunities from around the country into southwest Michigan, and we are excited for Ed to accelerate GhostLight's establishment as a premier location for the performing arts to thrive in Benton Harbor." 

Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Paul Mow, welcomed Ed in his new role as executive director, saying, “In hiring Ed Tracy as interim executive director, our board of directors has found a true professional with both the experience and understanding of the demands and needs of a non-profit arts organization. 

Mow continued, “It has been an honor to build the foundation of GhostLight alongside Marty. She leaves behind a significant contribution to the Benton Harbor Arts District, and all of us in the SW Michigan arts community who have begun the passionate work on this project we call a ‘storefront’ theatre.” I look forward to working with both Marty and Ed during this transition as well as throughout the fantastic 2022 theatrical production and artistic camp season that we have in store for the community.” 

GhostLight’s 2022 season opens with the musical Little Women (May 19-29) based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, followed by Joshua Harmon’s play Significant Other (June 9-19), the Midwest premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s Lewiston/Clarkston (July 14-24) and the Jeanine Tesori/Brian Crowley musical Violet (August 18-28). 

GhostLight is hosting educational camps throughout the summer including: CircEsteem Kids (June 20-24) a day camp designed to build self-esteem & mutual respect through the practice & performance of circus arts; Discovering Your Voice By Learning to Write Like Shakespeare (July 25-29) with Ken Smith, PhD; and, BEST Camp - Building Excellence through Summer Theater (June 27-July 1), a collaboration with The Citadel Dance & Music Center.

Download Our Season Program

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