Cast of ‘Ghost of a Chance’ Comes Together for Laughs

Destiny Walsh, Kayley Ohler and Diana Mendel, from left, rehearse for the Brooke Hills Playhouse production of the Flip Kobler-Cindy Marcus comedy, “Ghost of a Chance.”

WELLSBURG — The cast of the Brooke Hills Playhouse’s 48th season-opening production of the Flip Kobler-Cindy Marcus comedy, “Ghost of a Chance,” has come together as an ensemble to produce laughs and a few tears for the show’s audiences, despite their different backgrounds and levels of experience, according to director Chelsey Barnhart of Follansbee.

“Ghost of a Chance” is named for Chance, Bethany’s deceased first husband, who still haunts the mountain cabin where he died in a hunting accident. Bethany brings her new fiance, Floyd, and Floyd’s mother, Verna, to the cabin, and Chance is not happy, making that clear to Bethany, despite the clairvoyant she brings in to exorcise his ghost and the efforts of his former accountant, Adam Lucas, to purchase the property.

Performances for the final weekend of “Ghost of a Chance” will deviate slightly from the Playhouse’s usual days and times, with no performance today, Friday, June 21, but two performances on Saturday, June 22 — at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. –and a final performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 23. Reservations are available by calling or texting the Playhouse at 304-737-3344.

According to Barnhart, the cast of Playhouse veterans and one newcomer have worked ceaselessly to form an ensemble, despite having to balance work, personal life and Playhouse time in order to pull the show together. “Despite life challenges, they made this show a priority and have put so much time and effort into making it a success,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart herself has been juggling work, graduate-level classes and Playhouse duties this summer and is passing her long experience at Brooke Hills on to the cast and crew. “Having been at the Playhouse for so many years, I have a very well-rounded view of all aspects of theater,” she said. “Also, I took many theater classes in college.”

Barnhart’s approach to directing is designed to make all cast members feel at ease, regardless of their level of experience. “I like to give the actors time to start to develop their character and then help them to bring the overall vision of the show to life,” she said.

Barnhart has seen her methods work with theater and Playhouse newcomer Kayley Ohler of Wellsburg. “Even though Kayley is new to the whole theater scene, she has been welcomed by the entire cast, and has worked hard on her clairvoyant character, Crystal,” Barnhart said.

Diana Mendel of Wellsburg, who plays Floyd’s domineering mother, Verna, is at the other end of the experience spectrum, having started at the Playhouse in 1983. Mendel is also Barnhart’s grandmother, but Barnhart has not been intimidated by directing a beloved family member. “She is such a powerhouse on stage, but she is very easy to direct.”

Barnhart said working together at the Playhouse has been one of the most joyful aspects of her relationship with Mendel. “It has been my extreme pleasure to collaborate with my grandmother on many different shows,” Barnhart said, adding, “I’ve probably learned the most from her when she has directed me.”

Barnhart is equally impressed with the rest of her cast and crew. “We have a great cast and crew who have totally dedicated themselves to making ‘Ghost of a Chance’ a success,” she said.

After “Ghost of a Chance,” the Playhouse’s next show will be the annual musical comedy, “Mama Mia,” with book by Catherine Johnson and music and lyrics by ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The show runs at 8 p.m. July 5-6 and July 12-13 and at 2 p.m. July 7 and 14.

“Mama Mia!” takes place during a 24-hour period in the summer of 1999 on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi, where bride-to-be Sophie dreams of having her father give her away at her upcoming wedding.

The only problem is that Sophie’s mother, the free-spirited Donna, refuses to identify Sophie’s father, so Sophie narrows down the list to three likely suspects, and invites all three men to the wedding.

This year, season passes will be available all summer long.

Municipal Mutual Insurance is the Playhouse’s 48th season sponsor.

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