By Joseph Zettelmaier
October 8 – 24, 2021
The Night Parlor is open; don’t touch that dial
What happens when you start living a dream you didn’t know you had? Step into the den of a sexy hostess of shlocky horror at Know Theatre with Shock!: The Spine-Tingling Tale of Miss Spidra, running October 8 – 24, and see how the story behind the story has all the thrills.
In the late 1950’s, young actor Joyce is given the opportunity to take her love of horror movies to the next level, as a Horror Host of an campy late night television B Movie Extravaganza: Miss Spidra’s Night Parlor. Now, some 50 years later, an older Joyce reflects on the challenges, the fun, and the schlock, when a documentary considers her legacy.
We kicked off our return to in-person theatre this season with back-to-back outdoor productions, but as autumn arrives, we’re delighted to welcome you back into our Jackson Street MainStage with this production by one of our favorite playwrights, Joseph Zettelmaier, who also wrote the scripts for previous MainStage productions All Childish Things (2015), Pulp (2016), and The Man-Beast (2018).
Shock! tells of the rise and fall of a “horror host,” the costumed emcee of late-night television broadcasts of campy horror films. This fictionalized account is based on a real-life pop culture phenomenon: in the 1950s, cities all over the country showcased their own homegrown spins on the smash-hit success of LA’s Vampira TV show. And as it turns out, Ohio had the most local TV horror hosts of any state in the nation. (Perhaps YOU grew up watching The Cool Ghoul, Fritz The Nite Owl, or Ghoulardi, yourself?)
Andrew J. Hungerford, Producing Artistic Director of Know Theatre of Cincinnati, will direct this production. He says about Shock!: “I remember as a kid the inherent thrill in staying up late at night to watch something scary, or silly, or both, in the waning hours before the local station ended their broadcast day. It was a magical time and place that felt outside of reality, like anything could happen. It’s the same kind of feeling I still get when I walk into an empty theatre. This play, which threads connections through theatre, film and television, celebrates creativity, and the joy of making something that is your own, while never shying away from what it can all cost.”
Tess Talbot returns to the Know MainStage to play Joyce, creator and performer behind “Miss Spidra.” Ms. Talbot’s many appearances on our MainStage include (most recently) as an aspiring MMA fighter in The Girl in the Red Corner (2019) and as an occult shopkeeper in Mercury (2018). Paul Riopelle will play Ray, the producer who’s pinned all his hopes on Miss Spidra; Mr. Riopelle has previously appeared at the Know as a private eye in Pulp (2016). Brianna Bernard returns to the Know as Lucy Lupnicki, Joyce’s sexy sidekick-turned-rival. Audiences may recognize Ms. Bernard from her appearances as Lady Glethien in this summer’s touring musical All’s Faire or as Sally Perks in the smash-hit satire Puffs (2019).
Also joining the cast is Terry Neumann as Older Joyce, who appears in video footage, several decades after the play’s main action, as she speaks to a documentarian about her life as Miss Spidra. Ms. Neumann makes her Know Theatre debut in Shock!, but she’s certainly been seen around our theatre before – often in the company of Ms. Talbot, her real-life daughter.
Rounding out the cast in a cameo appearance is Daniel Winters, usually found behind the camera as our in-house stage photographer but also familiar to Know audiences from his role in 2014’s Moby Dick, as co-director of Neverwhere (2017), and as director of Whisper House (2018).
Shock! will also be available to watch online as a high-quality video-on-demand experience, filmed by cinematographer and Director of Photography Ryan Lewis.
So join us in Miss Spidra’s Night Parlor, and discover what can happen when you take a chance on a wild idea and set out to build your own legacy.
Tickets are available on our website, knowtheatre.com, or by calling our box office at 513-300-5669.
- Tess Talbot as Joyce Billings, “Miss Spidra”
- Paul Riopelle* as Ray Coslaw
- Brianna Bernard as Lucy Lupnicki
- Terry Neumann as Older Joyce
- Daniel Winters as Oglesby
*Appearing Courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States, appearing under a Special Appearance Contract
- Director & Lighting Designer: Andrew J. Hungerford
- Scenic Designer: Kayla Williams
- Costume Designer: Noelle Wedig-Johnston
- Sound & Projections Designer: Douglas J. Borntrager
- Director of Photography: Ryan Lewis
- Original Music: James Allen
- Technical Directors: Henry Bateman & Jim Stark
AT A GLANCE
Production: Shock!: The Spine-Tingling Tale of Miss Spidra, by Joseph Zettelmaier
Dates: October 8 – 24, 2021; Wednesday – Saturday shows are at 8 PM; Sunday matinees are at 3 PM.
Where: Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson Street in Over-the-Rhine
Tickets: The standard ticket price is $25. Audiences may opt to support the Know’s initiative to pay all artists and employees a living wage by selecting the $35 Living Wage Ticket. Low-cost admission available for $15. On Wednesdays, as part of our Welcome Experiment, tickets are $5 in advance or FREE beginning one hour prior to the show. The Welcome Experiment is bright to you this season by Judge Mark P. Painter (Ret).
Know Theatre is Cincinnati’s Theatrical Playground. The Know showcases unexpected voices, new works, and plays that embrace the inherent theatricality of the live experience. Know Theatre seeks to be a place where artists and audiences feel welcome to take artistic risks, creating work that is cutting edge and accessible.
Know Theatre’s work is made possible, in part, by the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign.
The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Know Theatre with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
Know Theatre is also supported by The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation, helping to change our communities for the better through collaboration and innovation, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, which provides a simple, powerful, and highly personal approach to giving.
Know Theatre is a member of Theatre Communications Group and an Associate Member of the National New Play Network.