Titanic sinks?again

192 people showed up for the second annual Haunted House Experience, hosted by Theatre On The Ridge. This year, the theme was Titanic and the show was performed mostly by members of the acting company, Grizzly Valley Players.

Said drama director Erin Hanna, ?We tried our best to make sure people understood that this year would be completely different that last year and will, of course, be completely different next year.? She adds that familiarity is great for most events, but because this is a theatre group, there should be a different expectation and follow-through. She also reminds that the people within the event are actors with lines, actions and costuming to come up with. This event starts in the planning stages a year ahead of time. There are sound effects, fact research and location of items and costumes to contend with and it is all the more difficult from a remote area like Tumbler Ridge.

While this was not a scary haunted house, it hopefully was what it was intended to be. Quite sad on story and a bit creepy, as was the tale of Titanic. When asked why the haunted house was changed from last year?s format, one tour guide said, ?It wouldn?t be easy to scare kids today anyway, with the kinds of movies and television out there.?

This year the District of Tumbler Ridge co-sponsored the event with Theatre On The Ridge. Events coordinator Cheryl Hayden, dressed in costume with wide-brim hat and flowers on her shoes, helped to sell tickets, refreshments and assist in the first area of the ship. Sharon Bray shared the same duties as well as coordinating an activity for younger children at the Library. Thea Ferrari ran the computer and video slideshow on a large screen previewing the story of Titanic.

?Many people volunteered countless hours to help bring this to life. It took three days to set up, weeks to paint sets and locate antiques, some that were authentically from the correct era.? said Hanna. In regards to the admission fee of two dollars per person, she responded, ?It is hard for the general public to conceive the costs of an event like this. It may look like it was brought together for a minimal expense, but it ended up being about $600 spent on tangible items alone. I can?t even imagine how much it would have cost if we had to pay people for their labour and performers for acting. Any volunteer event is done out of great generosity from the people who put them on. The admissions collected is nominal and it simply helps off-set a small portion of the cost.? Hanna shakes her head and laughs at hearing that some people thought they should get in for free. ?It?s two dollars. People pay more than that for a coffee or slurpee these days. These actors worked day in and day out to get this show ready and walked the community centre for two hours that night. They deserve great credit for that! The set up took three days, Two dollars is little to pay for all the hard work that went in.?

Throughout the show, one of six tour guides led you through the wreckage, telling you their incident of the horrible night in 1912, through their own experience. Captain E.J. Smith was played by Jim Schulz; Molly Brown by Sherry Berringer; Irish emigrant Mary Mangan was played by Charissa Tonnesen, Ida Straus by Barb Schuerkamp; Lady Duff-Gordon by Jael Rochon; J.J. Astor IV by Brian Sipe; floating man in steerage by Lucas Evans; Waltzing Lady by Janet Delpierre and behind the stage help from Young People?s Drama youth, Tassie Delpierre, Amanda Thomas, Karli Watt and Jaqueline Smith.

With very few exceptions, the audience came out pleased with the event. One young boy left the lifeboat area still aglow from it. ?That was really cool!? he said, chatting with his buddy. Claudia Hunter, who magically created the ship and iceberg as well as helped in the design of many props, made a point of telling Hanna she thought the end result was very well done.

Given the limitations of the performance area, it certainly was the wreckage of the Titanic and for those interested in the account and tragic tale of Titanic, the scripts and detail of costuming was historically accurate to the best of the orgainzers ability. A grateful Hanna was extremely pleased with her acting company and helpers who then had tear-down. There?s no business like show business!

Consider the theatre group as more than getting up in front of others and performing. Theatre On The Ridge is in need of all kinds of help backstage as well. Prop/set design and creation , makeup and hair stylist, stage manager, all kinds of things! Contact Erin Hanna at theatreontheridge@yahoo.com or 242-3364.