Spark Theatre presenting chilling, challenging ghost story The Woman in Black

Dan Luesink (right) rehearses for Spark Theatre's October production, The Woman in Black, on Oct. 20, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

“I hope that everybody…who does decide to come to the show takes as much out of it as I’ve put into it.” – Dan Luesink

Spark Theatre is bringing a spine tingling ghost story to life on the E.A. Rawlinson Centre stage this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Woman in Black takes place in the Victorian era.

It follows Arthur Kipps, who’s experienced traumatic events and wants to tell his loved ones, but he can’t bring himself to simply say something.

He hires a young actor to help him develop his experiences into a play so he can perform it for his friends and family.

The Woman in Black began as a 1983 novel by Susan Hill before Stephen Mallatratt developed the story into a stage play.

In 2012, the film came out starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Director Cara Stelmaschuk said Spark Theatre’s October productions always have a Halloween element.

“That’s just kind of our goal. It’s that time of the year, so let’s use it. That’s what people are in the mood for,” she said.

But this one, she explained, stands out from the rest because of its true creepiness.

“(It’s) spooky, eerie, more of a ghost story than a comedy. Not guts and gore, but definitely we’re hoping to send chills up and down people’s spines with this one. There’s ghosts, there’s curses.”

Last year, the group performed The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which Stelmaschuk said was much more comedic.

“We’re in really good shape. We’ve got great actors, great crew. We’ve been working hard,” she said.

Much of creating the eerie mood is achieved with sound, lighting and costumes.

Joel Rohs is in charge of sound. Stelmaschuk said he’s even written a piece of music specifically for this production.

Craig Langlois is the lighting director and is “coming up with all kinds of fun little tricks.”

Harvey Anderson is doing the costumes.

“We’ve got our woman in black in a very fancy dress. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and our gentlemen are all decked out in kind of Victorian gothic gear. He puts a lot of time and attention into those things,” said Stelmaschuk.

They casted the Woman in Black in August. However, they didn’t start rehearsing until September because a few of the actors were still performing in Broadway North’s Mamma Mia!

The cast rehearses three times a week, also meeting up in between to work on lighting and sound effects.

The Woman in Black has been an experience of growth for Dan Luesink, who plays the young actor hired by Mr. Kipps.

“This one is my biggest (role) of course, but it is also the one that is coercing me to bring out every bit of acting experience that I have,” he said.

“It’s letting me grow personally, but it’s also letting me grow professionally as an actor so that, I hope, in future productions I will get to work on the same types of characters.”

Luesink said the end of the play is filled with twists. He’s in a graphic, emotional scene that’s caused him to dig deeper into character than he ever has.

He described the young actor as a little bit snooty and impatient with Mr. Kipps.

“I’m really grateful for the chance to do it and I hope that everybody…who does decide to come to the show takes as much out of it as I’ve put into it.”

You can purchase tickets for The Woman in Black at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre box office or online at the City of Prince Albert website.

Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. on each of the three days.

On opening night, the audience is invited to meet the cast and crew after the show. There will also be a candy bar to keep with the Halloween theme.