Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Vpstart Crow The Ghost Sonata

By • May 10th, 2007 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of Vpstart Crow’s production of The Ghost Sonata [MP3 5:19 1.5MB].

Laura: Sunday afternoon we saw Vpstart Crow and their production of The Ghost Sonata in Manassas, Virginia.

Mike: The Ghost Sonata is a play in three parts by Swedish playwright August Strindberg. It was written in 1907. The Ghost Sonata Strindberg creates a world where ghosts walk in bright daylight. A beautiful woman is transformed into a mummy who lives in a closet. The household cook sucks all the nourishment out of the food before she serves it to her masters.

Laura: This show was artistic. I felt that the cast worked together well. They seemed very comfortable with each other. A lot of them had worked together before so there was kind of a community feel in the sense that they all knew each other. This show wasn’t uplifting. It wasn’t upbeat. It was Art.

Mike: This is not a typical commercial type play. This is as was talked about in the talkback session that we attended, this was Art. It was a very dark show. The music and the dark colors of the set and the props. There were a few bits of color on the stage. Most of the actors had had solid white face with black around their eyes to give them a vampiric look. This is a show to go to to support the actors. It’s a chance to see a show that you’re not going to get to see very often. It’s a very dark show. It’s a very confusing show.

Laura: Zach Arnold played the Student. He was drawn into this strange house through a friend of his that coerced him to go in, in order to as he said seek riches and fame. Once he got inside the house he discovered it was kind of dark and creepy. You had dead people walking around. Other people that were dying. Arnold did a good job. He seemed to take it in stride. There were some moments when he was kind of surprised, but he was never upset. He was also realizing that he needed to get out of the house because it was killing him as well.

Mike: Jakob Hummell was played by Ted Ballard. This was a very juicy role. The opening scene he kind of set the stage of ghost versus non ghost versus vampires versus living versus dead versus undead. It was just a masterful performance of confusion, and yet making perfect sense to himself. He spent a lot of time talking with the Student trying to set the scene and having him do some certain tasks to be his benefactor. It was a bit confusing.

Laura: Geeta Pereira played the Young Lady. She too was living in the house and had never been outside. She was a prisoner as it was slowly killing her. She was starving to death and also just lonely. So when the Student came in she finally had somebody to connect with. Then she realized it was too late, she was already dying. I liked her ending scene. I thought it was touching with the death screen around her. She just kind of slowly went away.

Mike: There were about 13 characters in this how. We just talked about three of the main characters. Many of the characters don’t talk. They just exist. The second scene takes place at the ghost table. Several characters come in and they just sit there. They revel in their undeadness or their deadness. Some of the scenes were pretty confusing. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. There was a little bit of humor in there at times. For the most part it was not a real upbeat show.

Laura: Costume and hair and makeup played key roles in The Ghost Sonata. They were done by Melissa Jo York-Tilley. Very much the drab black and white. The only real color on the stage that was in stark contrast because everything was dark and drab and dreary looking were the hyacinths. They were purple color and they really stood out. I think they really added to what little life there was in the show to the stage.

Mike: The different technical aspects in the show worked well together. The set was designed by Christine Lange. She also did the sound design. The Lighting Design was done by Brian Allard. There were several parts of the show where there were spooky sound effects. There were sound effects during the scene changes. There were a few walls that folded around or rolled around to be different things in different scenes. I like how it all worked well together. Some of the scene changes dragged on a little bit. They felt a bit long.

Laura: The Ghost Sonata is playing through Sunday May 20th. Friday and Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM. On Sunday the 6th we had a talkback session with the cast and crew after the play to learn more about the page to stage process. That should be up on our website shortly. The Ghost Sonata is kind of an arty show. Not real upbeat.

Mike: The show is about 90 minutes long with no intermission.

Laura: And now, on with the show.


  • The Fiancee: Carolyn Cameron
  • The Lady in Black/The Housemaid: Lauren Billingsley
  • Baron Skanskorg: Brett Bartosavage
  • The Superintendent: Jay Tilley
  • The Superintendent’s Wife: Christy Frye
  • The Colonel: Marcus Lawrence
  • Jakob Hummel: Ted Ballard
  • The Student: Zach Arnold
  • Johanssen: William MacLeod
  • Johanssen (May 12th performance) Paul Rubenstein
  • The Milkmaid: Stephanie Powlen
  • The Young Lady: Greeta Pereira
  • Bengtsson: Brian Ross Huse
  • The Mummy: Gail Seavey


  • Artistic Director: Christine D. Lange
  • Managing Director: Sara Joy Lebowitz
  • Production Manager: Melissa Jo York-Tilley
  • Director: Christine D. Lange
  • Stage Manager: Elizabeth Stock
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Stephanie Powlen
  • Set Designer: Christine D. Lange
  • Master Carpenter: Bob Lange
  • Lighting Designer: Brian S. Allard
  • Sound Designer: Christine D. Lange
  • Costume Designer: Melissa Jo York-Tilley
  • Hair and Makeup Designer: Melissa Jo York-Tilley
  • Crafts and Props Designer: Erika Wahle
  • House Manager: Jenny Green
  • Assistant house Manager: Kristen Green
  • Publicity: Jay Tilley
  • Poster Designer: Jennifer Reitz
  • Program Designer: Bob Smith
  • Press Photos: Dave Harback and Tim Betts
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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

3 Responses »

  1. Hey Mike and Laura! As always, thank you so much for taking the time to not only cover Vpstart Crow but local theatre in general throughout the Potomac Region! đŸ™‚

    Jay Tilley
    Public Relations Consultant
    Vpstart Crow Productions, Inc.

  2. Hey Mike and Laura! Thank you so much for not only continuing to cover Vpstart Crow but local theatre throughout the Potomac Region in general as well! Keep up the great work! đŸ™‚

    Jay Tilley
    Public Relations Consultant
    Vpstart Crow Productions, Inc.

  3. Hey Mike and Laura! Thank you much for taking the time to review this very unique and rarely-performed work. And, of course, thank you for continuing to support both Vpstart Crow and local theatre in general throughout the Potomac Region! đŸ™‚