An ensemble provides the musical backdrop for Red Curtain’s “Dark of the Moon,” which opens Oct. 18 in Marysville. In the ensemble are, from left, Drew Winston, Dyann Arthur, James Prater, Bill Pfleging and Joe Goins.

An ensemble provides the musical backdrop for Red Curtain’s “Dark of the Moon,” which opens Oct. 18 in Marysville. In the ensemble are, from left, Drew Winston, Dyann Arthur, James Prater, Bill Pfleging and Joe Goins.

Marysville’s Red Curtain tackles Gothic tale set in Appalachia

With a large cast and a complex set, ‘Dark of the Moon’ is the troupe’s biggest challenge yet.

Red Curtain’s newest production, “Dark of the Moon,” is the Marysville troupe’s biggest in several ways.

It’s got Red Curtain’s largest-ever cast — 26 people. And the 10-feet-tall, stage-filling set is the most complex the theater’s ever built.

“Dark of the Moon,” a Gothic tale of witchcraft and folklore, also is one of the most ambitious plays Red Curtain’s ever tackled.

“It’s testing our ability to see what we’re able to do,” said Scott B. Randall, the play’s co-director.

That complexity is part of the reason there are two directors for the show, which opens Oct. 18. Joe Goins, who directed an evening of one-act plays at Red Curtain last October, joins Randall as co-director.

The play is set in Appalachia, written in a Appalachian dialect and imbued with its culture through music. The cast’s bluegrass ensemble plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and, in one scene, a harmonium.

Part of Goins’ job was pulling together that stage ensemble, Randall said.

One actor, Snohomish High School grad Drew Winston, learned how to play the guitar and the spoons for the production.

Layton Gaskins plays a witch boy named John in Red Curtain’s production of “Dark of the Moon,” who seeks to become human after falling in love with a human girl. (Larry T. Lisk)

Layton Gaskins plays a witch boy named John in Red Curtain’s production of “Dark of the Moon,” who seeks to become human after falling in love with a human girl. (Larry T. Lisk)

Some of the music performed during the play are hymns well-known in Appalachia and beyond, including “You’ve Got to Walk that Lonesome Valley,” Old Time Religion” and “Down in the Valley.

The play, written in 1939 and rewritten for a Broadway production in 1945, is a dramatization of “The Ballad of Barbara Allen.”

Supernatural elements come to life on stage to tell a deeply complex story, borrowing from classical Greek theater traditions, Randall said.

In the play, a witch boy named John falls in love with a beautiful girl and takes human form to woo and marry her. Their bond eventually succumbs to superstition and religious frenzy.

“It would be easy to make the witches or religious people into villains,” he said. “We made sure we didn’t do that. All parties are flawed and celebrated.”

Costuming was of utmost importance. Costumer Celeste Moody’s goal for the production was two-fold. The witches needed to be unique in their apparel as well as their actions, Randall said.

Moody wanted to tie their clothing strongly to nature, including feathers, fur, stones and crystals. Rune designs are painted on their body suits. “Witch people have their own sort of culture and that bleeds over into their clothing,” Randall said.

An immortal coven of witches haunt the Appalachian story “Dark of the Moon.” Clockwise, from left are: Layton Gaskins as John, Tina Worthey as The Conjure Woman, Jillian Ingram as the Dark Witch and Jorah Atkinson as the Fair Witch. (Larry T. Lisk)

An immortal coven of witches haunt the Appalachian story “Dark of the Moon.” Clockwise, from left are: Layton Gaskins as John, Tina Worthey as The Conjure Woman, Jillian Ingram as the Dark Witch and Jorah Atkinson as the Fair Witch. (Larry T. Lisk)

With the townspeople, Moody wanted to avoid stereotypes and dress them with clothing they would have made for themselves, he said.

Randall said he first saw the play three decades ago at Everett Community College and was mesmerized by it.

The show includes some mature material, including sexual assault, the death of a child and strong religious themes.

For these reasons, he said he considers it an “R” rating, most appropriate for those 15 years and older. The play, with intermission, lasts about 2½ hours.

The uniqueness of the show will be its big draw, Randall said.

“This is such an unusual show,” he said. “I think we all love folktales and myths. This show is very much rooted in that type of storytelling. “When you’re telling a folk story, it’s got to be larger than life, right?”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

If you go

“Dark of the Moon” runs Oct. 18 through Nov. 3 at the Red Curtain Arts Center, 9315 State Ave., Suite J, Marysville. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, students and military. Call 360-322-7402 or go to www.redcurtainfoundation.org for more information.

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