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JCCT scares up thrills, chills with 'Woman in Black'

Entertainment Staff • Oct 9, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Johnson City Community Theatre is scaring up some thrills with its latest production, “The Woman in Black,” opening this week and running right up until Halloween.

Curtains up is 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 11-26, with a single Sunday afternoon matinee at 2 p.m., Oct. 20.

“‘The Woman in Black’ is the scariest play I have ever read — and it is scary in the way a good ghost story should be, with suspense, chills and much spine tingling,” said JCCT Artistic Director Thomas Townsend. “The whole theatre is energized with the idea of bringing this modern gothic tale to life. Personally, I can’t wait for the audience to jump out of their skins.”

Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from a novella by Susan Hill, the stage version of “The Woman in Black” is the second-longest running play in London’s West End and is celebrating its 25th year playing there. Combining the power and intensity of live theatre with a cinematic quality inspired by the world of film noir, it treats audiences to an evening of unremitting drama as they are transported into a terrifying and ghostly world.

Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the house’s sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind the shuttered windows.

It is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman dressed all in black at the funeral that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold. This feeling is deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black — and her terrible purpose.

Years later, as an old man, he recounts his experiences to an actor in a desperate attempt to exorcise the ghosts of the past. The play unfolds around the conversations of these two characters as they act out the solicitor’s experiences on Eel Marsh all those years ago.

“I think one of the things that’s really special about this show is that it’s performed by just two actors,” said director Lindy Ley. “It gives the show this really great intimate energy — it’s easy to feel connected to the actors on stage.

“The two men doing the show, Larry Bunton and Andy Cobble, are just magnificent actors, and they have a really wonderful dynamic together. And the writing is absolutely incredible. Every day while we rehearse — even very early in the process — we all get chills.”

Bunton and Cobble are understudied by Richard Lura and Richard Nave. Nave is also assistant director/stage manager. Lighting design is by Sabra Hayden, and sound designer is Adam Honeycutt.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students (with a valid id), seniors (55 and up) and active military.

For reservations or more information on JCCT performance dates, tickets, auditions or volunteer opportunities, call JCCT at (423) 926-2542 or visit www.jcct.info.

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