I love old (some classic, some just bad) black and white movies from the 30’s and 40’s. I grew up watching Charley Chan, Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade, The Thin Man and myriad detectives amateurs and privates who have solved murders and other crimes in their spare time. The Ghost Train, a 1925 comedy thriller from Arnold Ridley of Daddy’s Army fame, brought back memories of the genre. The Ghost Train debuted at St Martin’s Theater (London) and ran for 665 performances. Now the play is in a revival of the genre.
Several years ago Centerstage performed The Hounds of the Baskervilles by Sherlock Holmes and last year it launched Yellow Fever, a lovely film noir starring Tim Takechi and Minki Bai, both of whom returned to CenterStage for production from The Ghost Train.
The Story Line: A group of passengers are stranded in a single-track station, thanks to annoying Teddy Deakin (Peter Cook), who pulled the emergency cord to retrieve his hat which flew off when he stuck his head out the window. This causes passengers to be unloaded at a haunted, isolated station with nothing nearby for dinner or lodging.
The story involves two couples, the Winthrops an unhappy couple and the Murdocks, newlyweds anticipating their one-night honeymoon; Miss Bourne, a “young girl” as she describes herself; the very annoying jester Teddie Deadin; a troubled young woman with her nurse and doctor, station chief Saul and Jackson, a policeman.
Kendall Kresbach directed The Phantom Train. The eleven-member cast spanned most of the stage. We were seated in the front row and enjoyed the view as the action moved from side to side of the stage. The seats and the set itself were perfect for this production. The cast and action constantly held our attention. Shannon Miller (Light Designer) and Niclas Olson (Scenic Designer & Set Construction) did a terrific job. All the action took place in the station. Our only (small) complaint was with the windows, which were painted on plastic and moved more than glass would in the wind.
We enjoyed the great cast. The action rocked back and forth across the stage. I really loved the character of Pat Sibley (Miss Bourne), an older woman, a self-described “damsel,” who looked down on many of the other travelers who didn’t meet her societal norms. When she had an emotional turn, she was offered a sip of rum to calm her nerves from the flask belonging to the very annoying Teddie. She drank it all down and took a long nap. Well done.
Peter Cook played the talkative Teddie Deadin. He last performed at CenterStage in Witness for the Prosecution. Deadin’s character was a constant irritant to most other characters, but he got it right with his actions, comments, and questions.
Tim Takechi and Minki Bai play the husbands. Charles Murdock (Minki Bai) and his wife Peggy (Julliete Jones) have just married and are on their way to a one-night honeymoon; the next day he left for South America to find work. Takechi plays Richard Winthrop, an overbearing and comically paternalistic husband. He and his wife (Kimberlee Wolfson) aren’t happy together and she wants a divorce.
Any screenplay written in 1925 is usually male-centric. I enjoyed these two mainly from their previous performances in Yellow Fever together. They played opposites, but still acted a bit like bosses.
The ghost train runs until October 30e at Centerstage, so it’s an ideal production for the Halloween season. The whole production was excellent. The Centerstage audience was one of the largest I’ve seen for Sunday afternoon productions recently. I hope the number of all local theaters will continue to grow. They offer quality productions and deserve to recover from the drop in audience caused by the Covid-19.
For tickets, please visit – app.arts-people.com/index.php?show=141424