Tag Archives: St. Paul

All Aboard The Ghost Train

With every blog I write here, I try my darndest to make the title as clever a pun as possible. I consider this in the spirit of good journalism. I also consider this in the spirit of my current show, The Ghost Train, which lends itself to a litany of loco locomotive puns.

  • Wow, that rehearsal really went off the rails.
  • But don’t worry, we’re right on track.
  • That was my train of thought.
  • Full steam ahead!
  • And my personal favorite – chug life.

Now in case you’re still thinking The Ghost Train is a serious commentary on the state of the U.S. infrastructure, let me clarify even further by saying that it’s about a band of disparate travelers who’s night train has broken down, leaving them stranded at a rural station in northern Maine. This is no ordinary train station mind you… in fact, it is HAUNTED by a paranormal locomotive that drives any witness to madness. The travelers must then put aside their personal troubles to solve the mystery and save the day.

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For my part, I play Charles, a newly married young man who would love nothing more than to get to his honeymoon hotel. Believe me, those are some pretty high stakes but don’t get too caught up in the details, this play is just plain fun.

Aiding in the irreverence is the time period in which The Ghost Train was written. The play, by Arnold Ridley, is full-on 1920s and premiered in London in 1923, running sold-out for over a year. In the subsequent decades it was made into several movies and established the trope of “strangers who get stranded and have to come together to defeat something bigger than themselves.” I would also say that William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were probably familiar with this play when they produced Scooby-Doo – there are so many of the same conventions!*

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My personal favorite rendition of the “people stranded together” story – the haunted train episode of Hey, Arnold!

With such a history, it escapes me as to how I’ve never heard of this play. It may be almost a hundred years old but the humor is astoundingly fresh; it’s silly and absurd what some of these characters do in the midst of a haunted train station.

This production also promises to offer a unique perspective on the play. Produced by Wayward Theatre Company and Mission Theatre Company, the show is be performed in partnership with the Minnesota Transportation Museum in St. Paul. The museum itself is in an old train depot and includes actual train cars! It’s super cool and brings a level of authenticity to the hi-jinks abounding. Definitely look into it and come to the show early enough to be able to look around the place and seeing some really interesting bits of history, when trains were the only practical mode of transportation.

You can do that soon when The Ghost Train pulls into the station on March 31st!

Choo Choo.

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*Joe Ruby and Ken Spears were the actual creators of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, so in all fairness to them, it was probably they who were inspired by The Ghost Train.

 

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Ivey! Ivey! Ivey!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Ivey Awards were last month so I’m way late on this headline but I figured, “hey, it’s still news worthy right?”  RIGHT? Right.

O.K.

So for those of you who don’t know, the Ivey Awards are the theatre awards given out to honor live, professional theatre in the Twin Cities but unlike the Tony Awards (or any other equivalent ceremonies), there are no nominees and nobody knows the winner of each category until… right… when… it’s… announced. The system is certainly unique and has its critics, but I found it to prevail in the core message of there are no winners or losers, just one big happy family of extremely devoted and ferocious artists. As for Diana and I’s place in that family, we may be knew, but we were soaking it up like nobody’s business with the Girl Friday crew representing our show from the summer, The Matchmaker. No, we didn’t win anything, but remember… it’s not about that 🙂

The Matchmaker (2)

What it WAS about was dressing to the nines and milling around the State Theatre in a huge throng of people in suits and dresses and taking photos and sipping from flasks and just having a blast! Then once we were inside, Diana and I made our way to what we thought were our seats and plunked down in the second row. Yes, we thought it was strange none of our compadres were sitting with us, but hey, we weren’t going to give up these prime seats and we didn’t have to! We really lucked out and were able to witness funny skits, glorious musical numbers and the one and only Joe Dowling accept the Lifetime Achievement Award. Afterwards we ran into Team Matchmaker and only then did our seating faux-pas reveal itself to us.

Ivey Awards (1)
Sorry, not sorry!

Following the show, the thespian swarm buzzed over to the after-party where I got to hang out with many good friends and loosen the tie a little bit. They say it’s like “theatre prom” but I had way more fun that night than I did at my actual prom. What I would compare it to would be the closing night ceremonies of the State Thespian Festival back home every year in high school, where you’d have an award ceremony but everyone’s just chomping at the bit to hit the dance floor.

Thespian Festival, 2009
Thespian Festival, circa 2009

Those nights were always so special- and last month’s Ivies brought those same feelings back. I felt extreme gratitude and pride in being a part of such a rich, diverse and HUGE theatre community. Seriously, everyone is so dedicated to making good work here that I am beyond thankful in being able to join in the fun. Can’t wait until next year and all the plays in between!

Ivey Awards

Ivey Awards (2)