‘The Woman in Black’ haunts Provo audiences

Arthur Kipps (Skousen) tells the tale of his encounters with the woman in black. (Photo courtesy of Nick Stone.)
Arthur Kipps (Skousen) tells the tale of his encounters with the woman in black. (Photo courtesy Nick Stone)

Screams emanate from an old building off of Center Street in Provo every evening from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. A woman dressed in all black with a sunken face roams a theater waiting for an audience and the chance to thrill.

The production “The Woman in Black” is playing this month at the Echo Theatre. The play is full of scares, jumps and everything that an old ghost tale purports to be.

The play, which was recently adapted into a movie version in 2012 staring Daniel Radcliffe, follows a young lawyer, Arthur Kipps, as he is sent to settle the affairs of a client in a small village after her death. And as with all adaptations, there are major differences.

The play is performed by two men. It follows the story of Kipps after his experience with the woman in black. Kipps has hired an actor to help him tell the tale, and soon the audience is encapsulated in the retelling of Kipps’ encounters with the woman in black.

“It’s a lot different than the movie,” said Jason Purdie, a recent graduate from BYU’s acting program, who plays the role of the hired actor in the play. “The play explores some things that the movie doesn’t about the characters and relationships, but it’s still scary, just with more suspense and more build.”

The new location of The Echo Theatre, just off Center Street in the old Kaleidoscope Pictures building, helps add to the theatrical intensity.

“The set up helps make it scary,” said Joseph Skousen, a junior in the acting program who plays Kipps in the production.

The two actors had to develop their relationship as they embarked on the experience telling this ghost tale.

“It’s been a new experience,” Purdie said. “I’ve never done a two-man show before. You learn to trust each other because you are working so closely.”

And it wasn’t all scares from the get-go, said Skousen.

“Rehearsal were interesting. It took a while for the shape of the story to take sense,” Skousen said. “It wasn’t scary until the night before it opened.”

The woman in black thrills audiences in the Echo Theater's production of "The Woman in Black" (Photo courtesy of Nick Stone.)
The woman in black thrills audiences in the Echo Theater’s production of “The Woman in Black.”
(Photo courtesy Nick Stone)

The production has been well received by both the production team and audiences.

“I absolutely love it,” said Carolyn Mattes, a stage manager. “The energy from our audiences is nice.”

Brooke Hiatt, a freshman in the music dance theater program at BYU, was one audience member who enjoyed the show.

“It was a good Halloween experience,” Hiatt said. “It was interesting, full of twists.”

And it’s not just the audiences who are thrilled when the woman in black makes an appearance; the actors do too.

“I actually get scared,” Skousen said. “I’m in the dark too, and she really does creep up on me. The intensity is real.”

“The Woman in Black” runs through Nov. 2 with shows Monday–Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $10 online at www.theechotheatre.com. Discount student tickets are available on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for $8 when purchased at the Box Office located at 15 North and 100 East.

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