By CHERIL VERNON
Sometimes a show or movie will connect with its audience in a very personal way — evoking emotions and memories that have been dormant.
The Palestine Community Theatre’s production of “Ghost: The Musical” does just that — bringing up memories of past shows and actors and actresses who have graced the stage of the historic Texas Theater in downtown Palestine over its 83-year history.
“Ghosts: The Musical” kicked off last weekend at the historic Texas Theater, but shows will continue this weekend on Friday and Saturday for the final weekend of the Dogwood Trails Celebration and also the following weekend, April 5-7.
Similar to the story of the venue in which the production takes place, “Ghosts the Musical” is about an 100-year-old theater that is in danger of being torn down because it is in poor condition.
A young couple who loves the theater is joined by the actors and actresses who once graced the stage and have returned in supernatural form to save the theater.
According to PCT members, “Ghosts” tells a similar story of what the Texas Theater went through before PCT stepped in and brought it back to life.
“The Texas Theater has been on a rise and fall roller coaster since opening as the most expensive built theater in Texas at that time,” a PCT news release said. “For many years the theater fell into ruin and the doors were closed. Today, the theater stands in downtown Palestine in the best shape it has been in since the doors opened decades before.”
Longtime PCT director Sandy Couch Hanson is dedicating the show to her late husband, George Hanson, who played a vital role in PCT over the years.
“Every now and then a director gets to do a show that is particularly special. After more than 30 years of directing shows here at the Texas Theater, my special time has finally come. Last spring, I had the opportunity to read the script and hear the music for ‘Ghosts: The Musical.” I laughed, I cried and I immediately knew I wanted to bring the show to Palestine. You see, this really is our story. The writer and composer, William Allen Jones, wrote this marvelous show and had no idea what an impact it would make on our cast,” Sandy said.
“Once you see this show, I know you will understand why it is so very special and I feel like this is our gift to Palestine and our way of saying ‘thank you.’ Your generous support over the years has kept these doors open. You believed in our Palestine Community Theatre and the Texas Theater when no one else did. You see now you are all a part of the fabric of this theater. All your good memories and special times you have spent here with loved ones, some who are no longer here, will remain forever with you and this Grand Lady, the Texas Theater forever.”
The show has something special in it that makes the audience feel as if they are part of the show.
“It’s not just watching it, it’s like you are experiencing it. Everybody participating in this is so vested. There is a warmth and loving feeling like it’s not just you that are here. You are experiencing what the theater has meant to you all these years, whether you grew up performing in shows or attending the shows,” Sandy said.
Some of the people who have watched the show have been overcome with emotion.
“One man remembered one of the last plays he watched with his mother was at the Texas Theater,” Sandy said. “There are so many people who have come and gone over the years that have left their mark, but a piece of them remains here and we can call upon those memories. It’s just a show that evokes emotions of love and memories all the good wonderful feelings that you’ve had here.”
More than 30 community members make up the cast.
“The songs are fantastic, all original. We have the best combination of cast, excellent singers, the best of the best on the stage,” Sandy said. “We had separate auditions for the dancers, led by choreographer Trish Couch. We have excellent dancers as well.”
Cast members include: Chaundra Dantin as “Anna”; Amelia Cook as “Elizabeth”; Michael Cook as “Toby”; Doug Smith as “Winchester”; Gerry Don Goodwin as “Dexter”; Dixie Lee Dorsett as “Hilda”; Jim Vincill as “Dooley”; and Carol Moore as “Margaret Parsimony.”
Meet the Writer/Composer
For the first time in PCT history, a writer/composer will be in attendance for his/her own show at the Texas Theater.
“Ghost: The Musical” writer/composer William Allen Jones, co-founder of P&J Productions, P&J Theater Works and Footbridge Films, will be come see the PCT’s version of “Ghost: The Musical” during two performances on the last weekend, April 5-6.
“We’ve never had a writer/composer come see our show,” Sandy said. “We are so excited to have him come here and invite everyone to come meet him.”
A special wine and cheese reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6 before the 7:30 p.m. performance.
A few months before the show opened, the PCT invited the Sonshine Paranormal Investigators of Fort Worth to do a paranormal investigation at the old theater to tie in not only with the upcoming production, but to investigate noises and other things people had reported happening at the theater. On Feb. 23, the Sonshine team held a “reveal” of its paranormal finding.
“We had over 100 people attend the reveal — it was packed, I wasn’t expecting that many. I think there were a lot of people who were inquisitive about it,” Sandy said.
The investigators captured a fairly clear photo of a young boy sitting in the balcony and some images of possible paranormal entities in the green room, as well as relaying a story about a laser grid fading in and out, Sandy said, among other findings.
“I saw the laser grid doing what it was doing and there was no question to me what was happening, but you had to be there to experience it,” Sandy said. “We even incorporated the laser lights for the show.”
The Sonshine Paranormal Investigators attended the opening night production as special guests.
Times and Tickets
“Ghost: The Musical” will continue this weekend with performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. No performance will be held Sunday due to the Easter holiday. Performances for the last weekend April 5-7 will be held at 7:30 p.m. April 5-6 and at 2 p.m. April 7.
Tickets for “Ghosts: The Musical” are $8 for ages 4-18 (children 3 and under may sit in your lap) and $12 for adults. Tickets also can be purchased online at www.outhousetickets.com.
Tickets are available for purchase at Education Unlimited, Dogwood Diner and the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.outhousetickets.com.