A SPOOKY haunted mansion, possible heirs to a fortune and a variety of secrets and mysteries are the key ingredients of Roleystone Theatre’s latest production.
Written by John Willard and directed by Paul Treasure, The Cat and the Canary is a 1922 comedy thriller that sees a group of distant relatives gather at a creepy old house to find out who will receive the inheritance of an eccentric millionaire, 20 years after his death.
The heir is then forced to remain in the house to prove she’s not mad – but, at the same time, a homicidal maniac has escaped from a nearby asylum.
There is also a lost emerald necklace, secret panels and a mysterious housekeeper in contact with the spirits.
“While this may sound cliched, this is actually the play where a lot of those cliches were first used,” Treasure said.
The play’s title comes from the rich eccentric, who felt his relatives “have watched my wealth as if they were cats, and I – a canary”.
There have been numerous film versions over the years, including one featuring former Bond girl Honor Blackman, while the 1939 movie starring Bob Hope partially inspired Walt Disney to create the haunted mansion attraction at Disneyland.
Treasure said although the play is a comedy thriller with quite funny material, some moments needed to be genuinely scary.
“This is something very hard to do on stage and I am looking forward to seeing if we can get the right mood to actually scare the audience,” he said.
“We are also trying to make the entire thing look like a movie from the 1920s – all the set and costumes will be in black, white and grey and we are carrying that through with the makeup and the lighting as well.
“If we get it working correctly, there will only be one thing on stage with any colour.
“This is also one of the very first plays of its genre so there are a number of things that don’t follow the expected formula.
“There are things that were new when it was written which are now cliches, so getting the balance right will be interesting.”
Acting for more than 25 years, Treasure has performed in most of Perth’s theatres – mainly with Roleystone, Kwinana and Marloo Theatres and the Mandurah Performing and Koorliny Arts Centres.
He has several acting awards and nominations to his credit, including a 2014 Finley Award for best actor in a musical for his role as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof with Murray Music and Drama.
Never far from the stage, Treasure is president of Roleystone Theatre and former president of the Independent Theatre Association.
“The Cat and the Canary appealed because I loved all the film versions of the story,” he said.
“When I discovered it was originally a play and out of copyright, I knew had to do it.”
The Cat and the Canary plays at 8pm May 27, 28, June 1, 3 and 4. Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on (08) 9490 9306 or at www.roleystonetheatre.com.au.
Roleystone Theatre is located at 587 Brookton Highway, Roleystone, opposite the Croyden Road junction.
cat1: Samantha Hutchins as Annabelle West in The Cat and the Canary.
cat2: The Cat and the Canary features Samantha Hutchins, left, as Annabelle West, Kristen Twynam-Perkins as Susan Sillsby and Kelsie Anderson as Cicily Young.
cat3: Mammy Pleasant (Linda Bickley, left), Elizabeth Patterson (Anja Van Der veer) and Cicily Young (Kelsie Anderson) in the comedy thriller The Cat and the Canary.
cat4: Roger Corsby (Gerry Chapman, left) and Annabelle West (Samantha Hutchins) ponder who will be heir to a fortune in The Cat and the Canary.
Roleystone Theatre in WA has a long tradition with its beginnings in the 1930s as a choral and amateur dramatic society. The theatre group you see today has been evolving since the 1970s when a collection of interested locals began putting on quality performances of plays and musicals.
The theatre currently produces, on average, five major shows every year and is well known for the quality of our performers, sets and technical work.
The building itself has undergone many alterations however the bulk of the auditorium is an art-deco original and is Heritage listed. The building has facilities for persons with a disability or limited mobility, including ramps into the foyer and auditorium as well as an allocated restroom. For your comfort air conditioning and comfortable, padded chairs are features of othe auditorium.
There is also a licensed bar and well-stocked kiosk to cater for your refreshment needs at all performances.
P: 0402 530 529