THE DROWNING GIRLS at OnStage Playhouse is a part ghost story, part true crime, and all-around spooky theatre piece that has opened to great reviews for cast and crew. Director James P. Darvas talks about how he came to choose this show, the creative joys, and the challenges of a show with subject matter fit for Halloween where the performers emerge from bathtubs and stay soaking wet for the entire show.
THE DROWNING GIRLS was originally supposed to open their last season, but everyone’s favorite pandemic meant that the show could not go on at that time. Darvas says that the timing of the show which examines the real-life murders of three women in England in the early 1900s was the right mix of compelling story and the start of Halloween season while staying true to the theatre’s mission.
“I thought this story was a perfect fit for the Halloween season, the piece stays true to our tag line, theatre worth talking about!”
The play, written by Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlison, & Daniela Vlaskalic, is a one-act and jumps right in from the start in telling the story with the brides gasping for air and emerging from their bathtubs. Originally written for The Fringe Festival, the piece was expanded into the current play. Darvas says the casting of his performers Carla Navarro, Emily Candia, and Sandra Ruiz was a perfect fit.
“We needed actors that would trust one another and feel safe with one another, seeing as these ladies have all worked together before on this stage, they were the perfect fit.”
Directing and creating the show proved to be a creative puzzle- how does one put this show together, have bathtubs and running water, and keep performers safe as they run around the stage wet for the entire show?
“The direction of the show was a challenge. This show has been in my brain for over two years now, I knew the show needed to be performed in front of a live audience, so I took it off the list for streaming shows. When we were given the go-ahead for in-person gatherings, this was first on the list. Aside from the challenge of COVID, there is running water everywhere!
Luckily, the team that assembled was absolutely top-notch. Problem-solving, creative ideas, out-of-the-box thinking….. the best team ever! Then we have pace, rhythm, and cadence…..so working with these actors was a dream!!!! Toss a challenge, they swung, and they hit a home run every single time!”
About those bathtubs, how do the scenic designer and the theatre work together for safety and aesthetics to put together the best show possible?
“How do we make that happen? What are our safety concerns?? How does the audience not get drenched? So many questions!
It was super difficult. However when you have the talented minds of Hsi-an Chen and Duane McGregor and MaeAnn Ross, magic just happens and challenges have absolutely no chance of getting the best of us! These three women are the bee’s knees and it was such a joy to watch them create this world!”
At the end of the show, besides the amazing performances delivered by his cast, Darvas hopes that the theatre and their creative problem-solving to put on this kind of show leaves people wanting to come back for me.
“I also want people talking about how amazing this theatre is- we are doing things that are extremely challenging and just succeeding triumphantly!”
THE DROWNING GIRLS is playing at OnStage Playhouse through September 26th. THE DROWNING GIRLS is playing through September 26th at OnStage Playhouse. For ticket and showtime information go to www.onstageplayhouse.com
Looking for more interviews? Click here