Tuesday, September 3, 2019

"Ghost Tour" at Daleko Arts

DalekoArts is opening their eighth season in New Prague (that's pray-g not prah-g to us Minnesotans), the southernmost city in the seven-county metro area, with a new original play Ghost Tour. Written by Ben Thietje, who also co-directs with Amanda White (Daleko's co-founding Artistic Directors), Ghost Tour takes its audience of a dozen people at a time on a walk around historic downtown New Prague. This fun and hilarious spoof of a ghost tour is chock full of local references (prune kolaches for the win!), and maybe one or two true facts of the area, but mostly it's an excuse to get outside, walk around, and experience theater in a non-traditional setting. Which this frequent theater-goer who tires of sitting for endless hours in uncomfortable seats loves. The show opened last weekend and runs through October 12, with three shows a night Wednesday through Saturday.

The tour begins at the Prague Theater, Daleko's home, where we're greeted by our tour guide in historically spooky garb. Tammy aka "Raven" (alternately played by Alyson Enderle and Amanda White) explains the logistics of the fictional tour-within-a-tour, when she's interrupted by stage manager Ethan (Phillip Hoelscher), telling her that the tour has been cursed. This sets the stage for a whole lot of shenanigans while we're walking around, which includes Ethan filling in for missing actors at various stops along the way, Tammy's ex Hunter (Ben Thietje) following her around and begging to be taken back (slowly stalking the group in a white Prius blasting the perfect songs, well chosen by sound designer Joshua Stallings), and rival tour guide Manny (Anthony Zadra) with his uninterested customer (Jami Snively).

tour guides (Anthony Zadra and Amanda White) regale the
audience with ghost stories (photo courtesy of DalekoArts)
The story unfolds over a half dozen or so scenes at various stops along the way. You'll visit historic buildings, charming gardens, and sweet murals in the block or two surrounding the theater (total walking distance < 1/2 mile). There are a lot of logistics and careful planning involved in pulling off three overlapping 70-minute tours, and even on the first week of performances, everything was running perfectly smoothly. But that's not to say unexpected things won't happen (like the guy walking down the street who asked, "what's going on over there?"), but that's part of the fun of taking live performance out of the theater and into the wild.

Ghost Tour continues through October 12, after which Daleko's season continues with another holiday comedy, a play about mathematician Ada Lovelace, and everyone's favorite musical about middle schoolers, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. New Prague is a bit of a drive (half hour to to an hour depending on where in the metro you live), but it's a most beautiful drive, and worth it for the always fun, interesting, and well done shows by DalekoArts.

a tour stop at a historic mural (which may or may not involve a murder)
(photo courtesy of DalekoArts)

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