Patti Flaherty of Moline -- and the Quad-Cities theater community -- lost a good, dear friend this past Oct. 12 with the death of 61-year-old Peggy Hanske, a vivacious actress, dancer, director and choreographer.
A veteran actress and director herself, Ms. Flaherty really needed a light distraction after this tragedy, and found it by directing Playcrafters Barn Theatre's latest production -- the comedy "Ghost of a Chance" by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus. The show runs Jan. 11-13 and 18-20.
"I needed something some funny," Ms. Flaherty said Wednesday, noting the last thing she directed at the Moline theater was the chilling morality play, "The Children's Hour," in 2009.
In "Ghost," a contemporary comedy, Bethany travels with her fiancé Floyd and her future mother-in-law Verna to her cabin in the woods, the site of the hunting accident that killed her first husband, Chance. But Chance's ghost is still at the cabin and still in love with Bethany. Only Bethany can see him, so everyone thinks she's gone crazy, except for the kooky psychic she's hired to get rid of him.
Playcrafters cast members include Cayte McClanathan and Joshua Kahn (Davenport); Jordan Smith and Donna Weeks (Moline); Jan Golz, (Rock Island), and Al Whitmore (Hillsdale).
"I have a very good cast," Ms. Flaherty said. "It's very silly. They bring in a psychic, talk the ghost into going to heaven. The man and his wife who wrote it, they write Disney cartoons.It's a perfect January show -- it's a perfect evening of frivolity and fun. You don't have to think too hard. It's really funny."
"Ghost of a Chance" received its world premiere at the Francis Wilson Playhouse in Clearwater, Fla., in the summer of 1995.A 2008 review of the play at www.cleburnetimesreview.com said:
"Some plays speak to the mind, some to the heart and some hammer the funny bone. Few manage to hit all three in the same evening. 'Ghost of a Chance' is that rare theater experience."
Written by Disney veterans Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus ("Beauty and the Beast" and "Lion King II: Simba's Pride" among others) "Ghost of a Chance" is "a touching, funny story of love and redemption," the review said.
Josh Kahn, a real-life stand-up comic who portrays Ghost here, is a naturally physical actor, Ms. Flaherty said.
"He's got some amazing timing. That part is very physical, and he does that so well," she said. "We're treading a fine line. You want it a little cartoon-esque; it's just silly. But you don't want to overboard; they're still real people. The crew is wonderful; we've got a fabulous set."
The production staff includes stage manager Karen Dubberke, producer and light designer Donna Weeks, set painter Craig Cahoon, and props chief Sara Laufer; props crewperson Greg Golz, light operator Nick Waldbusser, sound designer Alex Richardson, sound operator Megan Elliot, set builder Sara Wegener and costumer Jacque Wamer.
If you go
-- What: "Ghost of a Chance."
-- When: Friday, Jan. 11 to Sunday, Jan. 20, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. matinees on Sundays.
-- Where: Playcrafters Barn Theatre, 4950 35th Ave., Moline.
-- Tickets: $10, available at (309) 762-0330 or www.playcrafters.com.