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Film footage featured in The Final Reel. Courtesy photo.




The Final Reel 

Where: Hatbox Theatre, 270 Loudon Road, Concord
When: Friday, Sept. 8, through Sunday, Sept. 24, with showtimes on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. 
Cost: Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and students 
Visit: newworldtheatre.org, hatboxnh.com




Horror show
A ghostly play comes to the Hatbox Theatre

09/07/17
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



 Things get spooky in the New World Theatre’s newest production, The Final Reel, opening Friday, Sept. 8, at the Hatbox Theatre in Concord. 

The dark comedy-thriller was written by two Nashua English teachers, William Ivers and Walter Freeman. The plot centers on Ghost Encounters, a paranormal investigative reality show with a dwindling viewership. In hopes of recovering their reputation and keeping the show from getting canceled, the cast and crew decide to shoot the season finale at the supposedly haunted Leman Mansion on the coast of Maine, where Jacqueline Leman, a washed up former child actress, had a nervous breakdown and leapt to her death 50 years earlier. Things take a grisly and comic turn when the show, which has always fabricated its supernatural encounters with actors and camera effects, is met with a real haunting. 
“It has a very campy feel to it, mixing things from the 1940s with modern day television reality shows,” Managing Director and Producer Donald Tongue said. “There’s a very interesting comic mix there.” 
Much of the show’s humor is found in its characters — an egocentric paranormal expert, a pair of nerdy tech guys and a reality television show director who believes he’s the next Orson Welles — and in its witty dialogue. 
Director Toby Paul said the juxtaposition of horror and comedy is what attracted him to the play. 
“When you first read the script, it seems very dark and kind of gruesome,” he said, “but having the cast members read it out loud, you realize there’s a lot of good comedy in it.” 
What’s most distinctive about the play, Paul said, is that it incorporates original film clips, which will be shown on two screens on the sides of the stage. Some of those clips as they relate to the play include an old newscast about Jacqueline Leman’s suicide, footage from her last film and paranormal footage caught by Ghost Encounters.
“We had a film director come in and do some shoots at different locations. It’s not something I’ve ever done before,” Paul said. “It’s neat working with those elements. I think we have a very unique show as far as … some of the technical aspects.”  
Producing a play like The Final Reel does have its challenges, Tongue said. Executing supernatural and gory effects and elaborate scenes like Jacqueline Leman jumping from the balcony required a lot of planning and thinking outside the box. 
“The ghosts, the blood, the spooky atmosphere — it’s not always easy to pull off in live theater and make it feel real,” he said. “I don’t want to give too much away about how we did it, but it was certainly an interesting challenge.” 
Based in Londonderry, New World Theatre focuses exclusively on producing new, original plays by regional playwrights. The Final Reel is its only production for 2017. 





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