STAGE FRIGHT, OR… “LAUGH?” I Thought I’d DIE! by Todd McGinnis

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NOTE: Please Direct All Production rights/inquiries for STAGE FRIGHT… Or “LAUGH?” I Thought I’d DIE! to Samuel French
Also note: Acting Editions of this play are also available from Samuel French

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2 Acts – Cast: (minimum) 2 Female / 5 Male*

For almost a century an evil presence has haunted the Orpheus Theatre, awaiting the fulfillment of a chilling prophecy. A blood-stained Ouija board and a cryptic rhyme are the only keys that will unlock a terrifying truth.

A tale told in four vignettes, Stage Fright is an alternately terrifying, hilarious and always intriguing journey across the decades. The theatre-venue itself becomes a character in this tale that allows the audience to experience the history of a haunted playhouse… from the inside.

As generation after generation encounters the legend of the Orpheus and the dark power that lurks within it, piece after piece of the sinister puzzle falls into place and the dark prophecy draws nearer to fulfillment. Can anyone stop it?

Written with two endings—one scary, one comedic—giving producers complete control over the kind of experience they want to give their audience.

*…cast is expandable up to 25 total performers. Lots of options for doubling/tripling and gender flipping roles. A great piece for community / amateur theatre groups & companies looking to provide as many onstage opportunities as possible.

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS:

Act 1, Scene 1 “NIGHT CALLS”

LOTTY V.O., Child Female – the ghost of a little girl heard as a Voice Over.

EVELYN V.O., Female – Heard only as Voice Over. We will meet her in Act 1 Scene 2

SANDRA, Female – 20’s to 30’s – a stage actress.

VOICE on phone, Male – an evil demonic voice heard as voice-over.

MONSTER, Male – 20’s – 40’s – a stage actor.

GERALD, Male – 30’s – 40’s – a theatrical director, wiity, affected, arrogant, irritable, condescending.

PHIL, Male – any age 20+ – long suffering theatre technician whose voice is heard from off stage.

JIM, Male – late teens – 20’s – stage hand

Act 1, Scene 2 “PRESTO”

CORWIN HAYGOOD, Male – late 20’s-early 30’s – slick, rich-voiced radio announcer during the “Golden Age” of radio must have a similar height and build to the Actor in Act 2, Scene 1.

PRESTO, Male – 40’s – 50’s+ – A stage and slight-of-hand magician, the “Amazing Kreskin” of his day.

ROGER, Male 30+ – A businessman enjoying a night “on the town”.

TOM, Male 20+ – A factory manager, somewhat skeptical.

EVELYN, Female – Over 30 – A well-to-do, gregarious, bubbly woman, whose light airy humour masks a dark secret.

CIGARETTE GIRL, 20+ – A sexy presenter and assistant on Corwin’s radio broadcast.

CHARLOTTE V.O., (appearance optional) – the ghostly voice of a little girl. (she may appear as well if desired).

Act 2, Scene 1 “SOLILOQUY”

P.A., Male – 20+ – a flamboyantly effeminate and amusingly bitchy film production assistant whose job is to coordinate the extras on a movie shoot.

IAN, Male – 30+– Production Accountant responsible for keeping production costs on target.

JIMMY, Male- 20+ – A theatre technician who is on set to help out and observe.

SET DRESSER, Female – Any age – cranky, militant anti-smoker

ACTOR, Male- 70+ but in great shape, may appear younger – this is Corwin Haygood as an old man, so height and general physique should be similar.

WRANGLER, Male or Female – Any age

TERRY, Male – 30+ – Motion picture director, a nice guy under a lot of pressure.

SCRIPT GIRL, Female – 20+ – sweet and sincere, able to cry convincingly

Act 2, Scene 2 “HAPPY HALLOWEEN”

JENNA – Female – 30 + – A mature, savvy real estate agent

THOMAS FOX – 60+ – The grown son of Jim the stagehand from Act 1, Scene 1. A man on a mission he knows makes him appear crazed.

MARTIN – Male – 30+ – Jenna’s male friend

MERLIN BLACK aka “The Juggler” – Male – a sleight of hand Magician

TOTAL CAST REQUIRED – Minimum Cast Size:

2 Female (one 20+ & one 30+)
5 Males (one 20-ish, two 30-ish, one 50-ish and one over 60)

Maximum Cast Size:
1 Child Female (As Voice Only or Optional onstage appearance)
up to 7 Female – ages as above
16 Male* – ages as above

*Some gender-neutral/gender flip roles available from male to female.

PRODUCTION HISTORY:

“LAUGH?” I thought I’d DIE! (aka Stage Fright) by Todd McGinnis was commissioned and originally produced by Scott Lale, Artistic Director of the City of Brampton Theatre Production Office. It was requested in June of 2001 to be delivered at the start of September, 2001 for an October production.

THE MISSION: To create a truly frightening, full-length, Halloween-themed show that was still suitable for a general audience. The show had to require the absolute minimum of sets/props/costumes to accommodate an extremely restricted production budget. This was achieved by making the performance venue (a theatre) the actual setting for the show.

A thematically-linked, but episodic/vignette nature allowing for Multiple Directors (4 was the intended number) to be able to each handle one segment of the show. The suggestion was made to set the various scenes in the same theatre at different periods over the course of the 20th century.

THE RESULT: an opportunity to deftly weave chills, laughter and tears into a powerful evening the audience won’t soon forget.

The October 2001 production was staged under the alternate title “Stage Fright” and featured a slightly abridged version of the complete show.

(A complete cast list is not available at this time.)

TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 1 hr. 40 minutes

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