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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

A ghostly play haunts City College
City Theatre’s fall production of “The Uninvited” is more than just a ghost story, according to director Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin. | Emily Foley | Photo Editor | [email protected]

The sounds of power drills and hammers echoed from across the hall as set builders put the last nails and screws into the freshly built set inside the Art Court Theatre the day before opening night.

The smell of hairspray filled the makeup room as the performers added the final touches to their costumes before going on stage.

Before “The Uninvited” opened Sept. 26 at City Theatre, the cast and crew spent four weeks crafting and fine-tuning a unified vision under the helm of director Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin.

“They have done amazing things in four weeks,” said DeLappe-Grondin.

“The Uninvited” is a play based on a novel by Dorothy Macardle that was previously adapted into a 1944 film. Although the play ends its City College run Oct. 19, before Halloween, DeLappe-Grondin said City Theatre had a tradition of making sure its first fall production of the year exhibited a macabre sensibility.

The play tells the story of Pam Fitzgerald and her brother, Roddy, who purchase house in the west of England at a low price. Shortly after, they learn the house, Cliff End, has a dark reputation

“It’s a ghost story, but it’s a little bit more sinister than a ghost story,” said DeLappe-Grondin. “It’s not like ‘Casper [the Friendly Ghost’]”

DeLappe-Grondin said that what attracted her to the play was that it had a strong female character who pushed the story forward. She said the character reminded her of other female detectives like Nancy Drew, Buffy and even Velma from “Scooby-Doo.”

“There were more female roles than male roles, and that very rarely happens even in modern theater,” said DeLappe-Grondin.

Theater Arts and Film Professor Shawn Weinsheink said he worked closely with DeLappe-Grondin since late July to come up with the design of the set. According to Weinsheink, this process required that he work closely with the costume department to create a visual style that resembled 1930s England.

“All the design elements have to work in unison,” Weinsheink said. “If you have an actress in a red dress stand against a red wall, she’s going to disappear.”

This marks the ninth collaboration between Weinsheink and DeLappe-Grondin. He said he and DeLappe-Grondin didn’t always agree on every creative decision, but as long as he was able to justify his opinion, she was willing to compromise.

“It’s a pleasure working with Lori Ann,” said Weinsheink.

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Theater students Kathy Murison and Skyler King portrayed Wendy and Max Hilliard, characters invited by the Fitzgeralds to investigate the haunting at Cliff End.

“She’s into the paranormal,” said Murison. “My character thinks she’s psychic.”

“And I think it’s a load of crap,” added King.

According to Murison and King, this is the second play in which they’ve portrayed a couple on stage. Murison, in her own words, plays a bubbly and vivacious actress, and King portrays a pretentious painter.

“I ask myself, ‘How snooty can I possibly make myself?’” said King

According to DeLappe-Grondin, she didn’t cast the play because most of the cast mates knew each other, but instead she considered the needs of the play and who fit the role best.

“As so happens, I had worked with most of them before in some capacity over the last few years,” said DeLappe-Grondin.

The audition process was very intimidating, according Tim Brown, who plays Roddy Fitzgerald in the production. It required performers to create characters with only the couple pages of script they received.

“You have to make your best guess of what the character’s inflections are and their relationship is with this character,” said Brown.

Brown said his first show at City Theatre was last March in the stage adaptation of “Cannery Row.”
“Everyone here is incredibly welcoming,” said Brown.

According to DeLappe-Grondin, the bonds forged between actors and actresses while performing on stage in front of strangers become very strong.

“That’s one of the things theater does for people,” she said. “It gives you a sense of community. It gives you a sense of belonging.”

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