Tag Archives: Know Theatre of Cincinnati

SHOCK! The Spine-Tingling Tale of Miss Spidra Quick Review


Tess Talbot as Joyce Billings | “Miss Spidra”. Photo by Dan R. Winters Photography.

SHOCK! The Spine-Tingling Tale of Miss Spidra presented by Know Theatre of Cincinnati through Oct. 24. I attended the opening night performance.

Know Theatre returns to in-person performances by celebrating a slice of Americana perfect for the Halloween season: the costumed hosts of locally-produced late night television B-horror movie shows.

The script by Joseph Zettelmaier is smart, laugh-out-loud funny and does a great job of capturing the time period. The scenes from the ’50s are intercut with video interview segments where an older “Miss Spidra” reminisces about her career as a horror host. Director Andrew Hungerford shows a deft hand in the tone and pacing of the production. A couple moments of blocking pulled me out of the moment, but this would be a very minor complaint.


Paul Riopelle as Ray Coslaw & Tess Talbot as Joyce Billings | “Miss Spidra”. Photo by Dan R. Winters Photography.

Paul Riopelle is pitch-perfect as Ray Coslaw, the beleaguered local TV executive working to mimic the late-night success of other cities that have hopped on the horror-host craze. Tess Talbot shines as Joyce Billings, aspiring actress (and Ray’s sister-in-law) who reluctantly signs on as the hostess, fighting to make her character more than another vamp of the night. The chemistry between these two actors is central to the success of the production.

Brianna Bernard rounds out the on-stage cast as Lucy Lupnicki, the young sidekick brought in to keep the show “fresh.” She handles the arc of the character very well as Lucy learns the ropes of the local TV industry. Talbot’s real-life mother, Terry Neumann, does a nice job as the older Joyce in the video segments. Also Daniel Winters has a fun video cameo as local politician Oglesby.


Paul Riopelle as Ray Coslaw, Brianna Bernard as Lucy Lupnicki & Tess Talbot as Joyce Billings | “Miss Spidra”. Photo by Dan R. Winters Photography.

The technical aspects of the show worked well. The video was enjoyably produced and felt like a modern-day documentary thanks to director of photography Ryan Lewis. Resident costume designer Noelle-Wedig-Johnston did a great job of capturing the look of the ’50s and in the creation of Miss Spidra’s look. The set and props design by Kayla Williams define the two performances spaces well. I did feel the bookcases looked a bit unadorned for the TV set and I couldn’t find the gargoyles mentioned during the interview. Speaking of things mentioned in the script, it would have been fun to see the dry ice fog roll in for Miss Spidra’s debut. [Director Andrew Hungerford kindly informed me that, as with many things, there is currently a dry ice shortage, so kindly ignore my last sentence. –Rob] Again, I’m just being picky. 🙂

Overall a wonderful return to live performances and a very enjoyable, nostalgic look back to the early days of local television.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Click here for more information on the production.

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Get Lured into Miss Spidra’s Web with SHOCK!: THE SPINE-TINGLING TALE OF MISS SPIDRA

KTC_Shock promoBy 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 


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.


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Applications Being Accepted Sept. 20-Dec. 13 for 2022 Cincinnati Fringe Festival

CFF_logoThe Nineteenth Annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival will run Friday, June 3 through Saturday, June 18, 2022.

Applications will open on September 20 and close December 13.

This year, we are doing away with the Early Bird period and offering a pay-what-you-can sliding scale for the entire application period to encourage greater diversity within our applicant pool.

Official page |

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SHOCK! the Spine-Tingling Tale of Miss Spidra Runs Oct. 8-24

KTC_Shock logoSHOCK! the Spine-Tingling Tale of Miss Spidra
Know Theatre of Cincinnati
Oct. 8-24

Directed by Andrew Hungerford

Cast: Paul Riopelle, Tess Talbott, Brianna Bernard & Terry Neumann

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 a late night television B Movie Extravaganza: Miss Spidra’s Night Parlor. And some 50 years later, an older Joyce reflects on the challenges, the fun, and the schlock, when a documentary considers her legacy.

This world premiere from Joseph Zettelmaier (All Childish Things, Pulp, The Man-Beast) comedic drama about schlocky horror and what happens when you start living a dream you didn’t know you had.

10/1/21 COVID-19 Policy

  • Fri-Sat, Oct. 8-9 at 8pm
  • Sun, Oct. 10 at 3pm
  • Wed-Sat, Oct. 13-16 at 8pm
  • Sun, Oct. 17 at 3pm
  • Wed-Sat, Oct. 20-23 at 8pm
  • Sun, Oct. 24 at 3pm

Official page |

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MONGREL Runs Aug. 26-Sept. 12

KTC_Mongrel logo

Know Theatre of Cincinnati
Aug. 26-Sept. 12 | Sept. 13-30
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park [Hamilton] | Video on demand

Directed by Rebecca Wear

Cast: Adam Tran

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Mongols swept across the world, led by a charismatic and powerful leader, crushing all resistance in their path, folding the conquered peoples into their empire.

Now, you the audience, with your town under siege, have the opportunity to plead your case before the Khan himself.  But first you’ll need some advice from the Khan’s most trusted adviser.

9/13/21 – You can now catch a high quality filmed version as video-on-demand (with captions available!) through the end of the month. 


Restrooms are available within 100 yards of the performance site. The audience area will be on grass with a gentle slope. Please let us know if you have accessibility or mobility concerns! 

8/31/21 Covid-19 Policy: As Mongrel is presented in an open-air, socially-distanced outdoor venue, we continue to request that guests wear a face mask, but we are not requesting proof of vaccination for this production.
Note: Always verify the latest policy changes before attendance.

  • In preview Thu Aug. 26 at 8pm 
  • Fri-Sun, Aug. 27-29 at 8pm
  • Wed-Fri, Sept. 1-3 at 8pm
  • Wed-Sun, Sept. 8-12 at 8pm

Official page |

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