“Playhouse on Haunted Hill” is an original play by writer and director Jake Zinke.

“Playhouse on Haunted Hill” is an original play by writer and director Jake Zinke.

Photo provided by St. Dunstan’s Theatre

Find out what mystery is in store in ‘Playhouse on Haunted Hill’

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 12, 2022

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — St. Dunstan’s Theatre Guild is presenting “Playhouse on Haunted Hill,” a spooky comedy by  West Bloomfield playwright Jake Zinke. The show will run Oct. 14-22.

St. Dunstan’s membership is entirely made up of volunteers. The theater was established in 1932 and is an independent nonprofit organization.

Zinke will be directing the play along with Meg Berger, who will help co-direct the show and serve as the lighting designer.

This is not Zinke’s first original play to be put on by St. Dunstan’s Theatre. His mad-cap comedy “Zombride” was produced at the theater in 2019.

Zinke has been a member of St. Dunstan’s Theatre since 2011. He recently served as president of the theater on the board of directors.

The cast is made up of actors from throughout metro Detroit.

One of the actors is Cynthia Johnson, who will be starring as Oda Mae, a clairvoyant psychic medium.

“You have an appetizer of murder, mystery and ghosts and the main course is humor,” Johnson described the show.

“Playhouse on Haunted Hill” was inspired by Vincent Price’s 1959 film “House on Haunted Hill,”  one of Zinke’s favorite old movies. Since it is in the public domain, Zinke decided to pay tribute to the film by turning it into a comedy and adding some unexpected twists.

Just like in the film, a group of guests with seemingly nothing in common is brought together for a party. However, instead of taking place in a haunted mansion, it is in a haunted playhouse.

Throughout the course of the play, the guests learn about their similarities and start to realize why they were all invited to the playhouse. It turns out that there is a murderous motive for their attendance, similar to the movie.

Zinke and Johnson said the making of this original production was a positive experience for the cast.

“Since it is original and nobody has ever seen it before, it was really fun to be able to have the actors be able to be part of the creative team,” Zinke said.

Zinke said actors would often come up with ideas for their characters and bring them up to the whole team to discuss and try out.

“There is kind of that sense of freedom that you are not going to be compared to somebody else who played the role because the role has never been played before,” Johnson said.

For a fun twist to closing night Oct. 22, patrons are encouraged to come dressed in Halloween costumes.

The patron in the best costume will be given a prize following the performance.

Performances on Oct. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 will be held at 8 p.m. There will also be a Sunday matinee on Oct. 16 at 2 p.m.

“The audience should just be prepared for a really fun time because all of the actors are having so much fun on stage,” Zinke said.

Parking is available in the Cranbrook House and Christ Church parking lots, east of the Playhouse on Lone Pine Road. There will be parking signs. Ushers will seat late arrivals at their discretion.

Masks are strongly recommended by St. Dunstan’s Theatre. To further ensure the safety of all involved, seating has been reduced, and the cast and crew are vaccinated.

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $18 for anyone over the age of 62 or under the age of 18. The box office will be open one hour before curtain.