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“The Woman in Black” at RLT Is a Spine-Tingler

"The Woman in Black's" cast includes Rowell Gormon (left) as Arthur Kipps and Clint Lienau as The Actor (photo by David Watts)

"The Woman in Black's" cast includes Rowell Gormon (left) as Arthur Kipps and Clint Lienau as The Actor (photo by David Watts)

Raleigh Little Theatre will present The Woman in Black, adapted in 1987 by Stephen Mallatratt from the 1963 supernatural thriller by Susan Hill, on Oct. 7-9, 13-16, and 20-23 in its Cantey V. Sutton Main Stage Theatre. Long-time RLT artistic director Haskell Fitz-Simons with a cast of two, which includes Rowell Gormon as Arthur Kipps and Clint Lienau as The Actor.

According to Raleigh Little Theatre:

“This spine-tingling chiller is one of the longest-running plays in London’s West End: ‘a truly nerve shredding experience.’ Prepare to be haunted by one of the best horror stories you will ever see on the stage.

“Mrs. Drablow lived alone for more than 60 years in a gothic mansion on an island accessible only by a causeway at low tide. Something awful happened there; and when he arrives at the house himself, awful things start to happen to Kipps too, not least the appearance of the woman in black.

“This thriller contains all the ingredients of a classic ghost story, complete with deserted mansion, haunted graveyards, and locals who don’t dare breathe a word of the horrors they have witnessed.”

The Woman in Black’s London website modestly describes the show as “The Most Terrifying Live Theatre Experience in the World,” and elaborates:

“[U]nanimously acclaimed, The Woman in Black combines the power and intensity of live theatre with a cinematic quality inspired by the world of film noir. It gives audiences an evening of unremitting drama as they are transported into a terrifying and ghostly world.

“Now celebrating 23 years in the West End with over 7 million people having lived to tell the tale of one of the most exciting, gripping and successful theatre events ever staged.”

The London Daily Telegraph called The Woman in Black “The most brilliantly effective spine chiller you will ever encounter…. [I]f you haven’t seen this show yet you are missing a treat.”

At the start of The Woman in Black, the play’s London website says:

“Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the house’s sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. It is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black – and her terrible purpose. Years later, as an old man, he recounts his experiences to an actor in a desperate attempt to exorcise the ghosts of the past. The play unfolds around the conversations of these two characters as they act out the solicitor’s experiences on Eel Marsh all those years ago….

The Woman in Black was first performed at the Theatre-by-the-Sea in Scarborough back in 1987. The original production received rave reviews, paving the way for future productions throughout the country. It reached the West End in 1989 where it has been a major audience puller ever since. Its success has subsequently reached a global level, having spread to the US, South America and through to the Tokyo theatre scene, and beyond….”

In addition to director Haskell Fitz-Simons, the creative team for the Raleigh Little Theatre presentation of The Woman in Black includes assistant to the director Tam Matthews, production assistant John T. “Jack” Hall, technical director Jim Zervas, scenic and lighting designer Thomas Mauney, costume designer Vicki Olson, sound designer Rick LaBach, sound engineer Thomas Houseknecht, vision consultant Amy Flynn, and stage manager Scott Wray.

The British Hammer Film Productions motion-picture version of The Woman in Black, directed by James Watkins from a screenplay by Jane Goldman, will be released in February 2012, and will star Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame as Arthur Kipps. His co-stars include Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, Liz White, Alisa Khasanova, Aoife Doherty, and Alexia Osborne.

Raleigh Little Theatre presents THE WOMAN IN BLACK at 8 p.m. Oct. 7 and 8, 3 p.m. Oct. 9, 8 p.m. Oct. 13-15, 3 p.m. Oct. 16, 8 p.m. Oct. 20-22, and 3 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Cantey V. Sutton Main Stage Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.

TICKETS: $20 ($16 students and seniors 62+), except all tickets $12 on Oct. 9th.

BOX OFFICE: 919/821-3111 or http://www.etix.com/.

SHOW: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows/11-12/woman.html.

SEASON: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows/11-12/.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.raleighlittletheatre.org/.

DIRECTIONS: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/about/map-directions.html.

PARKING: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/about/parking.html.

NOTE 1: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 3 p.m. Oct. 9th performance.

NOTE 2: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive listening devices are available for all shows.

OTHER LINKS:

The Play: http://www.thewomaninblack.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Woman_in_Black_(play) (Wikipedia).

The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Mallatratt (Wikipedia).

The Novel: http://www.susan-hill.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=56&Itemid=52 (official web page) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Woman_in_Black (Wikipedia).

The Novelist: http://www.susan-hill.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Hill (Wikipedia).

The Film (scheduled for release in February 2012): http://www.thewomaninblack-movie.co.uk/ (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Woman_in_Black_(2012_film) (Wikipedia), and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1596365/ (Internet Movie Database).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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