Tales of horror at Portland Stage raise money for Falmouth library

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PORTLAND — Horror is rarely done onstage, but this Halloween season Maine-based film and television actor Dustin Tucker is bringing six original, fright-filled tales to Portland Stage for a celebration of the macabre.

The production, called “The Haunting Hour,” features short stories submitted by authors and playwrights including Tess Gerritsen, John Cariani, Chris Holm and Callie Kimball that have been adapted for the theater.

“Some of the pieces will also incorporate puppetry, film and mixed media,” Tucker said this week. “The end result should be a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat, dangerously fun night.”

The show, which premieres at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, is also a vehicle to raise funds for the Falmouth Memorial Library’s ongoing capital campaign.

Tucker is donating 15 percent of ticket sales from “The Haunting Hour” to the library, which has until the end of the year to raise the final amount needed to move forward with a $5.62 million renovation and expansion project.

The capital project was approved by voters in fall 2014, but under the terms of the referendum, the library was responsible for raising half of the costs for the new building.

The library project includes a separate youth services wing, a variety of new community seating areas, a separate reading room and increased access to computers and other technology, among other innovations.

As of late September the library had raised $2 million of the funds needed, according to library officials, with about $800,000 left to go.

Tucker, who is a resident of Falmouth, said, “I love this library. Since this piece is a literary-based (production), and since we benefit so much from the library, it seemed only right that we should give back.”

Tucker has “always enjoyed scary stuff,” he said. Horror “is one of my favorite genres and it is rarely done onstage, mainly because it’s so difficult.”

With “‘The Haunting Hour,’ I wanted to help curate an evening of works by some of my favorite authors as an evening of theater. Mainers love to celebrate this season and I wanted to do my part to help make it memorable.”

Tucker said the show “is not suitable for the faint of heart or children,” but he’s hoping that for adult audiences “‘The Haunting Hour’ will get their blood pumping. I want them to laugh. I want them to shriek. I want them to sit back and drift away to six different twilight zones.”

In getting original material from each of the participating authors, Tucker said, “I reached out to each of (them) and described my concept. They were all so excited to be included and so generous to offer up their work.”

He said each author who agreed to participate “combed through their works and found a piece they thought might work. I took their text and adapted (it) as a stage play, taking exceptional care to make sure their words stayed intact.”

His favorite part of working on the show has been collaborating with the various designers.

“We have such an incredible team of artists making all this come to life,” Tucker said. “Meg Anderson is an up-and-coming and in-demand scenic designer in Maine and it was such an honor to get her.”

“Corey Anderson is one the finest lighting designers in town and he can make magic out of anything,” he said. “Seth Asa is a sound designer I’ve worked with before, and he is a sound genius. By using low and subliminal sounds he can enhance a moment for an audience in such a powerful way.”

The costume designer for the show is Kathleen P. Brown and Tucker said “her sense of style and detail is beyond comparison. Last, but certainly not least, is Shannon Wade our puppet designer. I’ve been wanting to work with Shannon for a long time, and when this project presented itself, I jumped at the chance.”

Tucker hopes that “The Haunting Hour” becomes a Halloween tradition at Portland Stage.

“Would love to have new authors, directors and artists involved every year,” he said. “I want this model to grow and show off what makes Maine so unique.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Fifteen percent of the proceeds from the new show “The Haunting Hour,” which opens at Portland Stage Oct. 25, will go toward the Falmouth Memorial Library’s capital campaign.