The autumn night hangs heavy, dark and damp, permeating the shadows just beyond the glow of the Point Wilson Lighthouse. Through shutters set ajar, caked in dust and laced with spider’s webs, a figure can be seen tracing the tract of the aging floorboards. Creeeeaaaak crack, creeaaaak crack, say the planks.
“He’s evil,” whisper the townspeople from across Port Townsend Bay, mothers murmuring into shawls and gentlemen into upturned collars lest the wind carry their words to the lighthouse keeper’s door.
Brazillia R. Kreep is a rare sight, hunched by time and pale as the fog that rolls across the inlet. The town’s children make a game of the illusive sightings, daring one another to slip through the decaying fence and sneak closer, closer, closer to the Kreep’s door. Creeeeaaaak slam, creeaaaak slam, say the shutters.
Drawn out by the season of the witch, the Kreep has planned a trio of haunted performances beginning at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25 and continuing through Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Undertown Coffee and Wine Bar. What began as a one-man show set to include readings of the Kreep’s original gothic poetry and short stories – eerie manifestations of his peculiar mind – the evening has metamorphosed into a participatory cabaret featuring five local artists.
Black Pearl Cabaret
An award-winning writer, director, producer and comedian, R O’Donnell developed “The Kreep” as a pseudonym six years ago while working in theater and television in New York City and Chicago. Wholly attracted to the creativity and innovation uniquely cultivated within the horror genre, he said, “There is very little that one can think up that can’t be incorporated plausibly into horror,” he said. “It is limited only by one’s imagination.”
Relocating to Port Townsend in 2010, O’Donnell founded the Black Pearl Cabaret with the mission to recruit a professional troupe of actors, variety artists and musicians to perform original works of a gothic and macabre nature. For the group’s debut performance, he teamed up with fellow poet Holly Stone-Cabe of Port Townsend, who is an avid promoter for events that benefit local nonprofits, including the 2010 Wordstock, which helped to raise money for the Boiler Room.
“Holly has been wonderful. She is very knowledgeable about getting the word out and has connections with numerous artists in the community,” O’Donnell said of Stone-Cabe, who performs as Ms. Autumn, an entity with an attitude rivaling the Kreep’s meek demeanor.
Incorporating folklore from the historic Victorian seaport to indulge audiences’ knowledge of Port Townsend’s haunted past, “An Evening with the Kreep” includes several up-and-coming local talents.
Finding herself in between projects after returning from a summer with the Lincoln Center Theater, Amanda Steurer said that O’Donnell and Stone-Cabe’s “enthusiastic” invitation to direct the peculiar performance “couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Steurer, a Port Townsend native, had recently explored gothic themes while directing “Dracula” for the Key City Public Theatre in 2011, and built up a repertoire of “strange” elements that could create a sensory experience for the audience.
“I spent a lot of time trying to answer the question ‘What makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up?’” she said. “Sound became a vital element.”
To provide the elemental soundscape, Stone-Cabe recruited cellist Aidan McClave, a 17-year-old Port Townsend High School student.
An experienced musician who has performed with community orchestras in Port Townsend and Port Angeles, the Tacoma Youth Symphony and the Kairos Lyceum chamber groups at Central Washington University, McClave said that the cabaret presented him with a new challenge – composition and an original soundtrack.
“The Kreep had the melodies in his head, but didn’t know how to write music, so we worked together to figure out the key, developed the different pieces and organized them for the performance,” he said.
Performing as the “Kreepy Krawler,” McClave said he is set to begin the evening with a brief monologue welcoming the audience. “I play a sort of Igor character; I’ll be the creepy guy in the corner that adds a little [musical] color to the rest of the performance.”
Fresh from a solo performance at the Old Consulate Inn, 17-year-old Alanna Dailey is set to perform opposite the Kreep. She portrays the apparition Parthenia Goste, a 14-year-old circus performer who drowned after stowing away on a ship headed for Seattle that sank off the peninsula coast more than 100 years ago. It remains unclear to the audience whether Dailey’s character is more than a product of the Kreep’s lonely mind.
“It is part of the mystery of the play; are our characters real or part of the Kreep’s imagination?” she said.
An accomplished jazz singer, Dailey’s résumé includes several performances with the Key City Public Theatre, which led Steurer to recruit her.
“Alanna’s personality is slightly timid, which lends itself completely to the character of Parthenia, but when she opens her mouth and let’s that voice come out, ‘Hello!’ she’s a powerhouse,” Steurer said.
Proving that even horror can include a little romance, the Kreep introduces Jason Altimarino as Jack Frost, an egotistical and brash maverick who captures Parthenia’s affections.
“I think I have a lot in common with the character as far as my personality goes,” he said. “Jack is cocky and edgy, and yeah, I’m a little bit like that, but he is also a good guy with a good heart, even if he’s not likely to reveal it.”
A familiar face in Port Townsend’s community theater, Altimarino, 17, was last seen in the Key City Public Theatre production of “Twelfth Night,” in which he played Curio, a servant to Duke Orsino.
“I really enjoy performing and theater where’s there is a sense of unity and comfort,” Altimarino said. “The cast becomes a sort of family, and the set, a second home.”
The fourth wall
Because the Black Pearl Cabaret aims to breach “the fourth wall” and create a participatory experience for audiences, Steurer said, the performance has presented some unique challenges for the cast.
“R [O’Donnell] brings a level of professionalism to this ensemble approach, which is more about seeing what each member has to bring to the table,” she said. “The process has been very interactive, and I think the performance will be as well.”
Dailey admits that the cabaret-style theater makes her slightly nervous as she has not performed so close to an audience before. In “An Evening with the Kreep,” she’ll be “floating” through the crowd attempting to move effortlessly, “like a daydream.”
“Talking with Alanna about moving through the space – how do you move when you are a ghost – it’s really fitting into where she is at in her journey as a performer,” Steurer said. “The same can be said of Jason as Jack. They are playing to their personalities, but also pushing their comfort zones.”
Altimarino said his role requires an immense amount of “vocal gusto,” and that dedicated preparation has been key, learning not only the lines, but also how to present the narrative.
“It’s all about how you read it,” he said.
A copper for the cup
In addition to the stage, O’Donnell and Stone-Cabe share a common goal: in order to encourage youths and the local community to participate in the arts and support future performances, each performer should earn a wage for their efforts.
“It was our goal to price the performance reasonably but also provided the artists a paid opportunity,” O’Donnell said. “We are trying to create jobs for a community of artists.”
“An Evening with the Kreep” does include some dark themes, so while it is not a performance appropriate for all ages, O’Donnell said, the show is open to teens and older individuals. Costumes are encouraged.
Advance tickets, $10, may be purchased at the Red Raven Gallery, 922 Water St., and the Food Co-op, 414 Kearney St.; tickets at the door are $15. Donations to the Black Pearl Cabaret may be made online through indiegogo.com. For more information, visit the Black Pearl Cabaret at