I love old (some classic, others just bad) black and white films from the ‘30s and ‘40s. I grew up watching Charley Chan, Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade, the Thin Man and myriads of amateur and private detectives who solved murders and other crimes in their spare time. The Ghost Train, a 1925 comedy thriller by Arnold Ridley, of Dad’s Army fame, brought back memories of the genre. The Ghost Train debuted at St Martin’s Theatre (London) and ran for 665 performances. Now, the play is in a revival of the genre.
Several years back Centerstage performed Sherlock Holmes’ The Hounds of the Baskervilles and last year debuted Yellow Fever, a nice Film Noir featuring Tim Takechi, and Minki Bai, both of whom returned to CenterStage for the production of The Ghost Train.
The Story Line: A group of passengers are stranded in a one-track railway station, thanks to annoying Teddy Deakin (Peter Cook), who pulled the emergency cord to retrieve his hat that flew off when he stuck his head out the window. This causes the passengers to be unloaded into a haunted and remote station with nothing nearby for dinner or lodging.
The story involves two couples, the Winthrops an unhappy pair and the Murdocks, newlyweds anticipating their one-night honeymoon; Miss Bourne, a “maiden lady” as she describes herself; the very annoying buffoon Teddie Deadin; a troubled young woman with her nurse and doctor, the station manager Saul and Jackson, a police officer.
Kendall Kresbach directed The Ghost Train. The eleven-member cast stretched across most of the stage. We had front row seats and enjoyed the view as the action flipped from one side of the stage to the other. The seating and the set itself were perfect for this production. The cast and the action constantly held our attention. Shannon Miller (Light Designer) and Niclas Olson (Scenic Designer & Set Construction) did a wonderful job. All of the action took place in the train station. Our only (a minor) complaint was the windows, which were painted on plastic and moved more than glass would in the wind.
We enjoyed the large cast. Action flipped back and forth across the stage. I really got a kick out of Pat Sibley’s character (Miss Bourne) an older woman, a “maiden lady” as she described herself, who looked down her nose at several of the other travelers who did not meet her societal standards. When she had an emotional turn, she was offered a sip of rum to calm her nerves from the flask owned by the very annoying Teddie. She drank it all and took a long nap. Nicely done.
Peter Cook played chatterbox Teddie Deadin. He last played at CenterStage in Witness for the Prosecution. The Deadin character was a constant irritant to most of the other characters, but was right on target with his actions, comments, and questions.
Tim Takechi and Minki Bai play the husbands. Charles Murdock (Minki Bai) and his wife Peggy (Julliete Jones) are just married and on their way for a one-night honeymoon; on the next day, he’s shipping out to South America to find work. Takechi plays Richard Winthrop, an overbearing and comically paternalistic husband. He and his wife (Kimberlee Wolfson) are not happy together and she wants a divorce.
Any script written in 1925 usually centers on the males. I enjoyed these two mainly from their previous portrayals in Yellow Fever together. They played opposites, but still acted much like bosses.
The Ghost Train runs through October 30th at Centerstage, so it’s an ideal production for the Halloween season. The entire production was excellent. The Centerstage audience was one of the largest I’ve seen lately for Sunday afternoon productions. I hope the numbers for all local theatres continue to grow. They offer quality productions and deserve to recover from the Covid-19-caused audience drop offs.
For tickets, please visit – app.arts-people.com/index.php?show=141424