'Tis the season for ghosts, and The Newton High School Theatre Department is getting in the spirit with its fall show. NHS students will perform Edgar Allen Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" Oct. 20-22.
"We wanted something spooky. The fall show hits right around Halloween so when I was looking for shows, I was looking for something scary," said Michael Parker, who directs the play. "Doing a Poe story right around this time of year is perfect."
Keeping up the scare factor and suspense in a live show requires skilled performances from its cast.
"This gives us an opportunity to do something really dramatic,"Parker said. "The show is not performed very often, but it's really cool, really intense and it challenges the actors quite a bit."
The story revolves around Roderick Usher, whose parents died while he was away at military school.
"He has spent the last 29 years in the house with his sister," said senior Tanner DeGrado, who plays Roderick. "He hasn't left the house."
Roderick asks his friend Ed Allen to visit him at his house.
"He's looking for someone to turn to in a time of crisis," DeGrado said.
Compounding his troubles, Roderick's sister, Madeline, is dying.
"In each generation, there's only one male Usher," DeGrado said. "The women of the house never survive — they die early."
Roderick's dead ancestors are not pleased with him bringing a stranger into the house, and they come out of their portraits to haunt and taunt him.
"The show is kind of a mental battle for Roderick," DeGrado said.
Mystery and insanity are intertwined in the psychological thriller.
"It's very different from the other shows we've done at NHS," DeGrado said.
The drama plays out on a sprawling set build by students, which features the trappings of a mansion, including a grand piano.
"We put a lot of time and sweat into the show," said senior Nathan Garber.
Garber plays Ed Allen, who tries to make sense of what is going on around him.
"As the show progresses, my character gets crazier and crazier," Garber said. "...There's a lot of suspense in the show."
Sophomore Clara Rowe plays Roderick's sister, Madeline.
"I think it's really entertaining because it's people being human, but it's the weird side of being human," Rowe said.
"The Fall of the House of Usher" will start at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20 and 21 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 in the NHS auditorium. Tickets for adults are $9 and student tickets are $6. Tickets can be reserved online at www.showtix4u.com.
For more information about the performance, call 316-284-6280 ext. 2412.