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Scary fun when the Autumn Moon is Bright in Cookstown

New play opens tonight at the Old Town Hall Theatre in Cookstown

Calling all fans of old horror films!

Alliston playwright and actor John Palla has put together a light-hearted comedy that is a homage to all of those great black-and white movies starring the likes of Lon Chaney Jr., Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee that used to turn up on late-night television.

Palla’s play, When The Autumn Moon is Bright, draws on films like Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Werewolf, and Dracula for its characters, scenarios, and even the occasional line, borrowed directly from a movie.

“Listen to them, the children of the night! What music they make,” says Jane Bolton as Countess Alucard (try spelling it backwards), a line taken from the Bela Lugosi movie of 1931.

Director Steve Bainborough is working with a fun cast that takes delight in their characters, and the multitude of film references.

“The fun for the actors is they each play a couple of roles,” Bainborough said, noting that it leads to a bit of chaos, as the actors change costumes behind the scenes of the moldering castle, a set that he designed, “but a great bunch of people built it.”

Gord Haney is all shining teeth as the glinting hero, Fulton Von Kruppen, and as his alter-ego, when the full moon shines.

Rosalind Naccarato plays Camille/Madeline; Keri Hughes has three quick changes, as Poe the butler, Inspector Burgerfrye, and The Thing; and Phyllis Johnson has fun with her dual roles of Igor, and Bella the Gypsy.

But the biggest stretch falls to Harry Lavigne, who plays both the evil Dr. Boris Von Kruppen, and his bumbling but loveable father, Prof. Ignatz Von Kruppen. The estrangement between them – a result of Boris’s evil experiments with re-animation – explains why they are never on stage at the same time, of course.

The result is an evening of fun for the audience, especially “picking up all those motifs and tropes from those old movies,” Bainboroush said. Those include a butler named Poe, and a laboratory assistant who bears an uncanny resemblance to Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

When the Autumn Moon is Bright is subtitled, “A two-act Comedy of Terrors,” and is suitable for all ages.

The timing of the production was inspired not only by the name, but “just because of how close it was to Halloween,” said Bainborough – the perfect time for vampires, werewolves and monsters to walk.

When the Autumn Moon is Bright is on stage at Cookstown’s Old Town Hall Theatre, 1 Hamilton St., until Nov. 24, with shows at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday.

Tickets are $20, available from the box office at 705-458-4432 or


Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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