Cast members with the Hardin County Playhouse will be performing a show full of ghoulish humor at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College’s Science Auditorium this weekend as “The Revenge of an HCP Halloween” premieres.

The show is the third installment in a series that began in 2009. The first was written by Hardin County Playhouse board member Ron Blair as a sketch comedy and celebration of the Halloween season that served as a fundraising event for the community theater. In 2011, “Another HCP Halloween” premiered, which included telethon-style wraparound segments, interspersed with sketch comedy.

Although there were plans to make the show a semi-annual event, obstacles such as the loss of the Hardin County Playhouse’s venue, the Plum Alley Theater, got in the way, Blair said. Now that the theater has been provided with a stable venue through the Science Auditorium and pandemic-related restrictions have eased, Blair said the timing felt right to stage another Halloween show.

This year’s show features a variety of sketches, along with wraparound segments that feature host Ghastly B Funkenstein and his sidekick Ivan the Mediocre.

Blair co-wrote the script and co-directs the show with fellow board member Jake Richardson. Blair said Richardson wrote approximately half the sketches while he wrote the other half, along with the wraparound segments.

“We began by pitching concepts to one another and deciding which ones create a short, marginally cohesive story from,” Blair said. “We were later surprised to find that our styles were close enough comedically that each piece meshes beautifully with the others and turned in a pretty great script.”

Many of the sketches pay homage to popular culture touchstones, both in and outside of the horror genre. Audiences can expect references ranging from horror classics such as “The Fly” to 70s game shows and sitcoms such as “The Newlywed Game” and “Three’s Company.”

“It all comes from a place of love of both the entertainment we grew up with, combined with our love of the theatrical experience, with a dash of affectionate cynicism spread throughout,” Blair said.

There are a total of 23 cast and crew members involved in the production, Richardson said. According to Blair, all but three of the cast members were involved in at least one other HCP Halloween show.

“We wanted the cast to feel free to put their own spin on the characters with the goal of making this show as absolutely funny as we could make it,” Blair said. “The rehearsal process has been a fantastic experience watching our friends and colleagues take these properties that inspired us and present them in their own unique ways.”

A long-time actor for the Hardin County Playhouse, Richardson said the show serves as his directorial debut. He also portrays Funkenstein and acts in a few sketches in the show.

Richardson said it has been both challenging and rewarding to work on the other side of the stage in this production.

“I’ve got a brilliant support system and folks that are willing to work their hardest for me and for the show,” he said. “That has helped tremendously.”

For the cast and crew, one of the major challenges in this production has been executing the quick costume, prop and sound transitions the script calls for, Blair said.

“Seeing all of the demands of this ridiculous show met with such enthusiasm by such an amazing group of people both on and off stage is enormously rewarding,” he said.

Richardson said because of some of the adult language and themes in the show, parents and guardians should exercise caution when it comes to bringing children to a performance. Overall, he said, audiences can expect a truly absurdist comedy perfect for the Halloween season.

“We’re not ashamed to go to some dumb places in this show and we go there with all of our heart,” he said. “At the end of the day, we hope you have just as much fun sitting in the audience as we have onstage.”

Tickets are $15 and are available by visiting hardincountyplayhouse.ticketleap.com or by calling 270-351-0577

This weekend’s performances are set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday. Performances also are planned at 7 p.m. for Oct. 21 through 23 and at 3 p.m. Oct. 24.

Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-505-1413 or acritchelow@thenewsenterprise.com.

Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-505-1413 or acritchelow@thenewsenterprise.com.

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