Spirited walk digs up funds for Lewiston Council on the Arts
By Susan Mikula Campbell
There's new blood in the Marble Orchard ... heh, heh, heh!
The Lewiston Council on the Arts' Marble Orchard Ghost Walks have begun and will continue on Saturday evenings in September and October in the village. This year, in addition to some of the "old" familiar faces haunting the cemetery, three young spirits have joined the troupe: Anna Frankovitch as the chilling Charlotte McConnell, Taylar Danielewicz as the great-granddaughter of the man who put a curse on the village, and Peter Andres as the spooky gravedigger James Royall.
"Each one has added so much energy to the walks. These three have inspired the rest of us to kick it up a notch," said Eva Nicklas, LCA artistic director and Marble Orchard director.
Sixteen-year-old Anna, a senior at Lewiston-Porter High School, has been a dependable LCA volunteer for several years thanks to her mom's friendship with Nicklas. Those who attended the LCA's free Blue Monday concerts during the summer will remember her as the smiling young girl, dressed as "Lady Shakespeare" who passed the hat (literally) to collect donations. For about five years, Anna also has volunteered in the children's ArtZone during the LCA's annual Art Festival.
Despite a part-time summer job at The Silo and college applications (she hopes to attend University of Vermont in Burlington for environmental studies), the young village resident willingly stepped into Marble Orchard rehearsals. Her first walk was Sept. 5 and she called it "exhilarating."
"It's really fun to see the reactions of people you are talking to in the audience," she said.
Anna plays Charlotte, the oldest surviving McConnell daughter, projecting a real chill factor.
"My story is not one for laughs," she warned, but added, "There is an ominous feeling to the whole walk - but in a good way."
Anna involved her best friend, Taylar, in both the Blue Monday and the Ghost Walk gigs.
"We chose to do it together as a friend thing," said Taylar, 17, whose schedule was already loaded with working part time at Tops and at The Silo, plus competing as a Peach Queen contestant for the annual Lewiston Kiwanis Peach Festival. Also a Lew-Port senior this year, she wants to attend Stony Brook University to study marine biology after graduation.
Taylar explained her Ghost Walk role as Chief Pemberton's great-granddaughter involves the legend of a Native American curse put on the village after two local boys beat up her "brother."
Her current hairstyle fits her character. She shaved the sides of her head and braided the remaining mohawk.
"I kind of marched to my own beat with it, but it turned out to fit my role perfectly," she said.
Both girls already are comfortable in their roles.
"I love it! I love being up there, seeing the reaction of the audience to your speech, and having people listen to you," Taylar said.
Being in the Ghost Walks and being a Peach Queen contestant are not only fun, but confidence builders. "Once you do these kind of things, you can do anything," Taylar said.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, even in the Marble Orchard.
Those who hear the gravedigger's tale told by Peter Andres may note the strong resemblance of the young actor to his father, local physician and musician Dr. Jerome Andres.
Nicklas recruited Peter for the Marble Orchard after seeing him ably perform several roles (high priest, Jewish man on the street, Roman governor and voice of Jesus) recently in "Paul." Peter's father and stepmother, Claudia, wrote the book, music and lyrics for the original play about the apostle Paul.
Peter, 28, works for a local drugstore chain. He is a 2005 Lewiston-Porter grad and a Niagara University theater studies grad.
"I like classic horror films, and I thought it would be great fun to play such a creepy character," he said of his Ghost Walk role. "I try to scare the pants off every audience member."
Like the girls, he's happy to be a member of the Marble Orchard Players.
"It's a great pleasure to play a new character in the Marble Orchard Ghost Walks, and it's an honor to work with these talented people and such a considerate and imaginative director like Eva Nicklas," he concluded.
So, once again there's new blood in the graveyard.
"Over the years, we've had a lot of really good kids in the Marble Orchard Players," Nicklas said, noting she loses them when they go away to college or move to a different area.
"The Ghost Walks are a really important fundraiser for us," she added.
Funds raised from the walks that take visitors down Plain Street to the Lewiston Cemetery next to First Presbyterian Church are used to help pay for the many free concerts and programs the Lewiston Council on the Arts offers throughout the year. Many of the historic characters portrayed are actually buried in the cemetery, and the walks usually provide bits of information on cemetery etiquette and traditions, as well.
The Marble Orchard Ghost Walks run Saturdays through Oct. 24. Gather at 7 p.m. at the Peace Garden at 476 Center St. Bring a flashlight to light your steps. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for LCA members and $8 for children under age 12. For more information, go to www.artcouncil.org or call 716-754-0166.