The honeymoon from hell: Honeymoon at Graveside Manor is a spoof on Halloween

by Bronte James

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Carla Powell, playing the role of Sophie the cleaning woman, tells an animated story to Stacy Thorburn, who plays the role of Madge the editor, as Jake Paul, also known as Tyler Thorncraft, listens in.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Some of the cast reacts to the surprise entrance of a character near the end of the show.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Brittany Wentzell poses for a photo in between chasing fellow actors with an axe for her role in Graveside Manor.</p>

Newlyweds Tyler and Marian will experience some bumps along the road of their honeymoon in the production, Honeymoon at Graveside Manor, by Pat Cook.

The play - billed as a "ghostly farce" is being presented by Queens County's Winds of Change Dramatic Society.

"Tyler and Marian are newlyweds who are honeymooning at a place called Graveside Manor, which, to Marian's surprise, used to be a mortuary," said Director Kalliope Koliotassis.

"There are a number of comical characters that they encounter that put a dent in their honeymoon plans."

An escaped lunatic from the local asylum, an odd maid, three teenagers ... and of course a ghostly presence that comes and goes leaving the characters wondering if their minds are playing tricks on them are a few of the strange individuals and beings Tyler and Marian encounter on the Halloween Night stay at Graveside Manor.

"It leaves you wondering if Tyler and Marian will ever get a happily ever after."

The play itself came to fruition after the Winds of Change Youth Group put on a play in March, and the board decided it was time to put on a show adults could audition and take part in.

"I read quite a few scripts and this one really stuck out because of the humour and the bizarre cast of characters," she said.

The play stars many actors Queens County has seen on the Astor stage before like Jake Paul, Olivia Olsen, Carla Powell, Andrew Danylewich, Dave Sutherland, Stacy Thorburn, and Brittany Wentzell. Several young actors are also ready to hit the stage including Lauren Amirault, Noah Mitton, and newcomer Anna Arnott.

Rehearsals started easily, scheduled for a few times a week, with the cast and crew learning their lines, getting comfortable with one another and more importantly getting comfortable with their characters.

But with opening-night looming, the work is intensifying.

They will transition from nine to 10 hours of rehearsal a week to 15 and upwards of 20.

Tech rehearsals will last even longer, going into the late hours of the night.

"Casting the show was a challenge because of a lack of men auditioning for the roles, [but] this is usually the case," she said.

"In a small town you can approach people who were in past shows and hope they consider being in the current show. Thankfully this worked out for us and we have a wonderful cast of actors to bring this story to life."

But volunteers don't go unnoticed either.

Students from the youth group will be acting as ushers, assistants and are painters for set production.

"Without the volunteers working within and without the Winds of Change, organizing, promoting, planning, constructing, finding props and sound cues would be very difficult."

It alleviated some of her work as director, which she said was limited to just that, compared to previous shows.

In other productions she has added looking after props, promotion, makeup and more to her resume because of a low volunteer turnout.

"As the director I have to have a vision for the production. You really have to dissect the play, get a feel for the characters, the set, and from there you cast your actors, discuss the set you want with the set builder and hope that he can make it happen the way you envision it," said Koliotassis.

"You need to help the actors access their characters by explaining how they should move or say certain lines. It is a long process and the stopping and starting of scenes can be tedious, but it all adds in the creation of a great show."

She noted it's important to keep arts in the community – through plays, or through the youth groups.

Having a place to be creative is good for the mind and good for your mental and physical health according to Koliotassis.

"You learn new skills through the arts, you meet new people to socialize with and it can make people feel less alone. People want to feel that they are represented and understood, the arts can do that," she said.

"We also want the younger generation to see that it is scary to put yourself out there, but it can also be extremely rewarding."

Honeymoon at Graveside Manoris set to open Thursday, November 23. Doors open at 7:30 at the Astor Theatre, Liverpool. It will run until November 26.

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