With Halloween around the corner, many different ghostly attractions will open their doors to the public. Smokestack Theatre Company, however, decided to take a different, more historical approach to the holiday by hosting historical tours in the Grove Street Cemetery called “Ghosts and Gravestones.”
The event lasts from Thursday, October 25 to Saturday, October 27 from 6:30 to 9:30 with a performance on Sunday, October 28 in the event of inclement weather on Friday. The event takes community members of all ages from as young as nine to as old as 65. Each participant is given a role of a historical figure who either lived in or had been through Danville. Some of these roles include former president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, Mayor Harry Wooding, and Captain John Noble.
When asked what inspired him to host the event, Managing Director of Smokestack Theatre Company, Josh Lucia said, “Smokestack Theatre Company is brand new, so we have been looking for various ways to get out into the community as we grow into a normal theatre season. We were approached by the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History to assist with the event and I immediately knew it was a good fit for us. We would not have to secure a space for rehearsals and performances, nor would there be royalties to pay. In addition, with all the excitement surrounding our launch we knew people were looking forward to getting involved. With a cast of over twenty people this was a fantastic opportunity to open up Smokestack to the community while supporting the Museum.”
Lucia also stated that he would be interested in doing the event again, calling it an “interesting and exciting experience.” He stated that there was always room for expansion and improvement. He also said he would be interested in continuing to hold more historical performances like this event.
“We would also like to add new roles and expand the cast,” said Lucia. “We are always tossing ideas around and while nothing is officially planned there has been discussion of doing something involving the city’s trolley among other things.”
Lucia has said that, for now, the main focus following the event is their main stage production. However, he did not say what was planned, instead winking and saying “That’s still a secret… for now.”
Drama teacher Kristen Williams helped assign and design costumes for all of the actors.
“I loved doing it! It took me back to my roots. I was able to receive very gracious donations from people like Justin Hall at Averett University and Kathy Milam from the museum itself. It was challenging, but it’s fun to match the silhouette of a particular time frame using some creative license,” said Williams.
Actors from North Star Theatre Project also participated in the event, following the postponement of their theatre’s play. “I was pretty sad when North Star cancelled their play, but this definitely made up for it. I had a blast!” said Hannah Vipperman, daughter of NSTP’s stage technician, Chuck Vipperman.
This article was originally published in Tunstall High School’s Trojan Messenger on October 26, 2018.
Pictured: Asa Herndon portrays Young Harry Wooding at the final dress rehearsal for Ghosts & Gravestones October, 21, 2018.