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Ghosts Reappear Portsmouth Ring

Kathleen Cavalaro photo of Ashley RisteenMARK YOUR CALENDAR

The Players’ Ring ushers in the Halloween season with the return of the award-winning play “Ghosts of Ocean House,” by York writer Michael Kimball, recipient of the 2014 John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award (New England Theatre Conference) for his most recent play,Duck and Cover. (Click title to read more) 


Ghosts of Ocean House runs October 10 – 26, with shows on Fridayand Saturdaynights at 8 PM and Sundaynights at 7 PM(except for the final Sunday, Oct 26, when the show will begin at 3PM). Ticket prices are $15 general admission, $12 students and seniors, with discounts provided for members of the Players' Ring. Early reservations are recommended and can be made at  or by calling the Players’ Ring at(603) 436-8123. 


Ghosts of Ocean Houseis a psychological drama about a brother and two sisters who, to inherit their late father’s Victorian seaside mansion, must spend one week for ten years living together harmoniously–or else lose the house to charity. This is their final year, their final week. But the newest family member, a flighty, fragile young bride named Darlene, harbors a dark, mysterious past–as does the quiet old house–and when they come together, ghosts begin awakening. 


Kimball, author of the London Times’ bestsellerUndoneand other suspense novels, wroteGhosts of Ocean Housein 2006, and it not only won the F. Gary Newton Playwriting Award and premiered to packed audiences, but it was subsequently nominated for the prestigious Edgar Award, presented each year by the Mystery Writers of America.


Despite the accolades, the current production is only the second timeGhosts of Ocean Househas been staged. One reason for the delay is that the playwright continued writing new plays. Short plays and full-length, Kimball has penned over 3o plays since 2006, all of them produced, some multiple times. “For years I’ve wanted to pull ‘Ghosts’ apart and make it work like it should have back then,” Kimball says. “Much of it worked well, but I was new to playwriting then, and I approached the play as if it were a screenplay. Eight years of on-the-job training can teach you a few things.” Over the winter, Kimball set aside the time to rewrite, and when “Ghosts” was finished, he pitched to The Players’ Ring—and got the green light. “Then Greg (G. Matthew Gaskell) phoned me to see if I had a director. I jumped out of my chair and said, ‘Yeah. You.’”


Gaskell (who most recently wrote and directed The Players’ Ring’s season openerDarwin’s Waiting Room), together with Kimball, assembled a cast of five actors, mostly new to Players’ Ring audiences, including Ashley Risteen, who has appeared in many Boston and Newburyport productions; Don Goettler, a New York trained actor from Maine,most recently seen in Kimball’sDuck & CoverandBest Enemies(with Gaskell) at Theatre WEST; and Adrienne Montezinos, Sherry Bonder, and Charlie Bradley, veterans of the Massachusetts stage and long-time students of Marc Clopton, director of the Actors’ Studio of Newburyport. 

Ghosts of Ocean Housemarks the sixth time that Gaskell and Kimball have worked  together, but the first time


Gaskell has directed one of Kimball’s plays. “I’m sure the cast would agree that Greg is an actor’s director because he’s an actor himself, and a gifted one,” Kimball says. “But to me, he’s a writer’s director, because he’s an incredible playwright. Greg can spot set-ups seeded in the text no matter how deep they’re buried, and he knows where the pay-offs are. He knows these characters intimately, he knows what they’re really saying when they speak, and he knows the intricacies of their relationships. Working with him has been a writer’s dream.”  


Ironically, Gaskell and Kimball first met at the 2006 premiere of “Ghosts.” Winner of the Players’ Ring’s F. Gary Newton Memorial Playwriting Award that year, the play ended the season playing to sold-out audiences—and Gaskell stuck around after the opening night’s performance to meet the playwright.  “He was so enthusiastic,” Kimball remembers, “so complimentary, so positive. It wasn’t long before I got to see some of his work, and I was blown away. He has such love and respect for theatre.” 


About the Players Ring:  Since 1992, the mission of The Players’ Ring has been to promote the efforts of local artists through the production of original works, while providing an affordable theatre space to local production companies. “The Ring” provides an environment where artists can thrive, grow, take risks and make daring choices.


Top photo: Ashley Risteen stars in Michael Kimball’s “Ghosts of Ocean House.” Photo credit Kathleen Cavalaro

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