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Know Theatre’s “Whisper House” is a Ghost Story that Sneaks Up on You


Review by Liz Eichler of “Whisper House”: Know Theatre

Set in a haunted lighthouse in WWII, Know Theatre’s “Whisper House” presents a gossamer thin story-line, but the performances sneak up and grab you.  Written by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening, American Psycho) and Kyle Jarrow (SpongeBob SquarePants the musical), a strong cast and interesting premise carry this production.

Christopher, (the charming Andrew Ramos) a boy whose pilot father is killed during the War and whose mother is sent to an asylum, is placed in an old Maine lighthouse with a self-described curmudgeon of an aunt (Kelly Mengelkoch), not used to being around children let alone this headstrong one, who tosses between the shores of doing what’s right and a consuming desire to escape it all.  His confusion is aided by the unhappy ghosts who whisper and sing his name. Ghosts (Erin Ward and Cary Davenport) dance and undulate around the stage, casting a spell on the audience. They sing the mournful lyrics such as “Don’t look now the world is ending.” Complicating matters is Aunt Lilly’s helper, a Japanese national Yasuhiro (Adam Tran), recently banned from living in the area, and Sheriff Charles (Brant Russell), sent to ferret him out. The indoctrinated Christopher spouts hatred for all things Japanese and foreign, spurred on by the Sheriff, eliciting audience reactions. Even as the bad guy, the Vince Vaughn-like Brant provides a lot of the show’s humor and warmth. Mengelkoch’s Aunt Lily also shows she can have a sense of humor, and a well-developed story, as love hammers on her hard shell.

Ward casts her spell with her mesmerizing voice and eerie movements, setting the tone for this musical, lyrical story of loss and the living. Director Dan Winters and Erin McCamley’s musical direction interweaves the music with the characters, aiding to the dreamlike effect. “How it Feels” is especially effective mourning “hearts break and never heal.” The mystery keeps changing course, keeping us wondering what is next.

“Whisper House” opens Know Theatre’s 21st season and runs through August 19. For tickets contact knowtheatre.com.