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Terrifying Theatre: "Woman In Black" to Play in Newport

They believe in ghosts.
 
The Woman in Black is a chiller of a ghost story, opening Friday at Falcon Theater in Newport and playing weekends through Nov. 1. (including a Halloween performance). 
 
The two featured players are popular community theater actors Jay Benson and Matt Dentino.
 
Set in an empty theater, elderly Arthur Kipps and a young actor rehearse a script Kipps has written about a mysterious event when he was a young man. An event in a British village. A haunted event that none of the townsfolk want to talk about.
 
In the village to sort out the estate of a newly deceased reclusive client, young Kipps goes to the funeral and sees a young woman dressed in black. He’s told firmly he saw no such thing. Then he goes to the client’s home – of course at the end of a desolate causeway across a march, of course with a cemetery, of course with another appearance by the woman in black. Of course with a thick fog settling in.
 
Back at Monmouth Theater, co-directors Ted Weil and Tracy Schoster gleefully explain why they believe in ghosts. 
 
Appropriately, their experiences began where Falcon, celebrating its 25th anniversary season, was born – Westwood Town Hall. 
 
There’s no one better than Weil, Falcon’s co-founder and artistic director, to tell the tale. The ghost’s name was Wesley, the building’s caretaker. “He hung himself in the back stairwell” very near what became the light booth. 
 
There were countless encounters, often in the attic which Falcon used for storage, in the light booth, in an apartment in the basement.
 
“That building was creepy,” Schoster laughed. “We loved it.”
 
Schoster, newly named Falcon managing director and Weil talked about what they each bring to their directing partnership. She’s the organizer and creator of ‘stage pictures,’ he’s the guy who brings it all together.
 
They co-designed the set, the lights, the sound – which they worked on for more than a month on weekends, listening for the exact individual sounds then layering them – the wind, the creaking rocking chairs, the crying children. Cue the eerie music.
 
They pre-cast Benson and Dentino, best-known and admired for comedy and musicals, respectively. Weil and Schoster agree Woman in Black will give the actors a chance to show off their dramatic chops. 
 
“My goal,” Schoster said, “is for somebody to gasp every night. We’re going to take you there.”
 
The Woman in Black, Oct. 17-Nov. 1, Falcon Theater, 636 Monmouth St., Newport. All performances at 8 p.m. Tickets $19, $17 students/seniors. 513-479-6783 and here.
 
THEY DON'T BELIEVE IN GHOSTS!
 
Directors Ted Weil and Tracy Schoster profess belief in ghosts, but they stand alone. Here’s the word from the actors (No!) and their dialect coach Kate Glasheen (Maybe?):
 
Jay Benson: “My father was a chemist – research and development. He instilled skepticism in me.”
 
Matt Dentino: “I have had experiences that I cannot explain as have other members of my family in an old house in Illinois which we lived in, but having said that I still can't bring myself to say I believe in ghosts. I believe in demons, otherworldly powers, possessions, but not ghosts...”
 
Kate Glasheen: "I can't say I've seen one, but that doesn't mean they're not out there. There are plenty of unexplained events and no one has ever proven they don't exist.  So yes?"
 
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts