An Evening at Ravenswood Manor

I’m a huge fan of podcasts and one of my very favorites is Sam Pancake Presents the Monday Afternoon Movie in which the comedian and his friends recap an array of 1970’s TV movies. It’s absolutely hilarious and I look forward to it every Monday. On a recent episode Sam mentioned he was appearing locally in a brand new production called Ravenswood Manor and I was immediately intrigued. Luckily, I was invited to attend a performance and I happily headed to the Celebration Theatre to check it out.

Ravenswood Manor is the brainchild of actor, comedian and playwright Justin Sayre and is a thoroughly unique theatrical concept. Inspired by 70’s era Gothic soap operas like Dark Shadows it’s a campy horror mystery told over 12 episodes. The episodes are performed chronologically, two at a time, over the show’s run and you’ll have to attend 6 shows if you want to see them all. If you don’t, no worries, because each performance is a self contained story that can be thoroughly enjoyed on its own.

Justin Sayre as Bettina Doors. Photo by Bryan Carpender.

In the production Justin Sayre stars as Bettina Doors a famous Hollywood actress forced to return to her childhood home, Ravenswood Manor, under mysterious circumstances. Upon her return she’s reunited with her creepy cousin Sheridan, her arch-nemesis Mary-Lois and is introduced to a number of other cooky townsfolk including plucky teenager Paisley Bennet.

Each episode is filled with mysterious happenings, supernatural situations, drama, intrigue and above all camp. Ravenswood Manor is pure comedy and the one liners are served rapid fire while the slapstick abounds. It’s absolutely hilarious and I often found myself laughing so hard at one joke that I couldn’t even hear the next one!

Sam Pancake as Jonah. Photo by Bryan Carpender.

The cast features Justin Sayre, Drew Droege, Sam Pancake, Ryan Garcia, Daniele Gaither, Angela Cristantello and Leslie-Anne Huff (plus rotating guest stars) and each and every one of them masters their roles. A few even master two roles!  My personal favorite, Sam Pancake, is a Charles Nelson Reilly inspired delight as the not so closeted pharmacist husband of Mary-Louis (played by Drew Droege with wicked perfection). I also adore Angela Cristantello as creepy cousin Sheridan. An overgrown mama’s boy who makes Norman Bates look like a regular guy he’s the perfect foil to Justin Sayre’s Bettina (whose egotistical, name dropping ways are delightful).

Angela Cristantello as Sheridan. Photo by Bryan Carpender.

And if you’ve got an affinity for old Hollywood like I do you’ll be especially delighted by Ravenswood Manor. In what other play can you find hilarious jokes centered around the likes of Darryl Zanuck and Merle Oberon? Every time one of these old timey references were dropped I felt like they were made especially for me and I laughed heartily.

Ravenswood Manor is a hilarious, campy homage to the over the top soap operas of my youth. I adore each and every minute of it and, like any true soap opera, I’m dying to find out what happens next? Why did Bettina return? Who are Paisley’s parents? And what does Sheridan have in the basement??? I guess I’ll just have to attend another performance to find out.

Ravenswood Manor is currently playing at Celebration Theatre through November 24 and tickets are available here.


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