BWW Reviews: GHOST-WRITER Opens the 2014-2015 Season for Spinning Tree Theatre
A tear glistened as it rolled down her cheek, and the audience knew they had seen something special. That something special was the opening night of Ghost-Writer at the Quality Hill Playhouse in Kansas City on Saturday August 23. Michael Grayman directs the Spinning Tree Theatre production of Michael Hollinger's Ghost-Writer. The production opens the 2014-2015 season for Spinning Tree, and if this is an indication of the remainder of the season, it is going to be a marvelous ride.
Ghost-Writer is the haunting tale of Myra Babbage the typist for novelist Franklin Woolsey. After Woolsey's premature death she continues to work on his unfinished novel, even at the insistence of his wife Vivian Woolsey demanding that she stop. This one act play not only delves into the battle between his wife and Myra, but into the relationship that developed between the writer and his typist.
Katie Kalahurka makes her Spinning Tree Theatre debut starring as Myra Babbage, presenting the audience with an outstanding performance. Every action and reaction propels what could be an average script to one of the highest levels. As she sits behind the old outdated typewriter she makes you believe there is an unseen visitor sitting in front of her. If you do not become a little misty eyed in the last scene you should have the person sitting next to you check for a pulse. Hollinger has given Myra a marvelous sense of humor that Kalahurka pulls off smoothly and naturally.
Robert Gibby Brand, one of the finest actors in Kansas City, makes his Spinning Tree debut as Franklin Woolsey the writer who in the beginning is fanatical about punctuation, but learns to trust it and many other aspects of the growing relationship to Myra. Brand is dynamic in the role, whether staring out a window or engaging Myra in a rant about the novel. He has appeared at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, and the Kansas City Lyric Opera among others in Kansas City.
Jeannie Blau rounds out the cast, making her Spinning Tree debut as Vivian Woolsey. She is wonderful in the role of the wife looking out for her husband's unfinished work, yet suspicious of the relationship between him and Myra. Blau has previously appeared at the White Theatre in To Kill a Mockingbird and Rumors at the Olathe Community Theater among others.
Spinning Tree Theatre has extended their season for 2014-2015 from three shows to four. In November the production company brings Violet, starring Lauren Braton, to the stage Kansas City playwright Frank Higgins' Black Pearl Sings, directed by Walter Coppage, opens in March of 2015. Black Pearl Sings stars Nedra Dixon and Vanessa Severo. Gary Neal Johnson and Julie Shaw star in Fiddler on the Roof in April. The Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City will be the venue for the three remaining shows.
Ghost-Writer continues at the Quality Hill Playhouse through September 7, with performances on Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Saturday August 30 and Sunday September 7 performances begin at 2 p.m. Purchase tickets by calling 816-569-5277 or on the Spinning Tree Theatre website. Photo of Katie Kalahurka and Robert Gibby Brand by Manon Halliburton.