By Lisa Purchase Kelly
"In The Woman in Black, Arthur Kipps enlists the aid of a young actor to
help him tell the story of the haunting that has been plaguing his nightmares
for years. As they recreate the horrifying experiences of the young Kipps'
and his encounters with a ghostly woman in black, they find that the terror,
rather than being purged, grows through twists and turns to an intense and
When I spoke with director Marc Beaudin and asked him to tell me about
his upcoming Pit & Balcony production of The Woman in Black, he merely
outlined the story for me by quoting the press release (as above) but balked
at the details. It seems that there are plenty of details that the audience
will have to "see" for themselves when they come to the show, and Beaudin
is playing it pretty close to the vest until then. "I can't tell you much more
about i; it would reveal too much. The story has to unfold for the audience
one step at a time, both in their imaginations and on the stage. This play
has a very film noir quality to it. What makes a noir film work is what they
don't show, as opposed to what they do show. What you can't see, or what
you think you might have seen, is so much more disturbing than what is
literal and right there in front of you. This subtlety and imagination is the
difference between a psychological thriller and a slasher movie … a good
psychological thriller is always more terrifying."
The Woman in Black relies heavily on the actors' story-telling to weave
a good ghost-story that the audience can let their imaginations runaway
with. The director praised his small cast and remarked that "they both are making my job
really easy. Michael Curtis is perfectly subtle … he finds the depth in every
scene." Curtis plays the older Kipps who has been haunted for years. He
previously played Salieri in Pit & Balcony's production of Amadeus. "Erich
Williams brings intensity; he drives the energy of a scene. Erich is exciting
to watch." Williams plays the younger actor and earlier version of Kipps,
and previously played Einstein in Pit & Balcony's production of Picasso at
the Lapin Agile. Beaudin said, "Personally I love the chance to work with
such a small cast and such accomplished actors because it gives me the
opportunity to dig much deeper into the art of theater, rather than just the
entertainment aspect of it. With just a few talented actors, I can spend less
time on basic stagecraft and more time digging into the heart of the text."
The Woman in Black takes place in an empty theater, between shows, so
the actors improvise uses for a random object left lying around the stage,
and this arrangement serves for both set and props. Sound is going to be a
key component in the story-telling, so Beaudin is pleased to have Al Limberg
running sound for this particular show. "He's the best sound guy in the area.
Pit & Balcony has been privileged to have him on board for several shows this
season, and we hope he will be working with us well into the future."
Director Marc Beaudin returns to Michigan after directing a sold-out/extended run of Steven Deitz’s Dracula at Montana’s Blue Slipper
Theatre. Before relocating to the northern Rockies, he directed numerous
productions for Pit & Balcony, The 303 Collective, and Bay City Players,
including four which have been named to the “Top 10 Arts Events of the
Year” by The Saginaw News. More information on Beaudin’s work can be
found at CrowVoice.com.
Based on the haunting novel by Susan Hill and written by Stephen Mallatratt,
The Woman in Black is an intense and thoughtful ghost story that has
chilled and puzzled audiences at London’s Fortune Theater for over 21
years; Saginaw audiences are sure to be haunted by this production as well.
Directed by Marc Beaudin and starring Michael Curtis and Erich Williams,
The Woman in Black opens at Pit & Balcony Friday. Performance dates
are Friday, January 28 at 8:00pm, Saturday January 29 at 8:00pm, and Sunday
January 30 at 3:00pm; Friday, February 4 at 8:00pm, Saturday, February 5 at
8:00pm, and Sunday,February 6 at 3:00pm. To reserve tickets, call the Pit and
Balcony box office at 989-754-6587 or visit pitandbalconytheatre.com.
© Lisa Purhase Kelly, 2011