An extended-run Fright Night comes to Maplewood this Halloween when The Crucible, Arthur Miller's well-known Colonial “witch hunt,” plays at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts over two weekends in October.

"This is a timeless piece of literature and theatre,” said Nicholas J. Clarey, Artistic Director of interACT Theatre Productions, which will present performances Oct. 12-Oct. 14 and Oct. 19-Oct. 21.

“It depicts what is tempting for us to view as a very dark and tragic time in our history, something which we feel we are freed from, having recognized the hysteria that caused the deaths of far too many,” Clarey said.

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The play provides a harrowing glimpse of the living nightmare of the 17th-century Salem Witch Trials. The play features a group of troubled girls in Puritan Salem whose accusations of witchcraft and devil-worship spiral out of control into mass trials and hangings in which every good citizen is soon pointing the finger at their neighbor and crying out for their blood.

A simmering adulterous triangle complicates the situation between community pillar John Proctor (Erik Gaden), his wounded wife Elizabeth Proctor (double-cast with Christine Gaden and Susan Holtz), and the calculating ringleader of the girls crying “witch,” Abigail Williams (Shiva Kiani). 

Watch for some well-known community performers in the cast. More than 80 actors auditioned for roles. In keeping with its mission of being a more inclusive and accessible form of community theatre, interAct double-cast several lead roles to include more community actors in the production. The cast ranges in age from 11 to a few actors not telling. (Find all the actors and their bios @ Meet the Cast).

“We want to engage as broad an array of community members as possible, whether on stage, backstage, off stage or in the audience -- the magic of theatre should be available to everyone,” said Elena Svitavsky, producer of The Crucible and president, interACT Theatre Productions.

Performances will be 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12; Saturday, Oct. 13 (matinee and evening at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.); and Sunday matinee on Oct. 14 at 2 p.m.

The play will also run the following weekend, with performances at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19; Saturday, Oct. 20 (matinee at 2 p.m. and evening showing at 8 p.m.); and Sunday matinee, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students (w/ID) and seniors.

Miller won a Pulitzer Prize for the Crucible in 1953. The play was written during the McCarthy period when Americans were accusing each other of Pro-Communist beliefs. The parallels of reckless, unsubstantiated accusations prevalent during that time can be seen in today's newspaper headlines and current debates of the day.

“Unfortunately, the witch hunts are not isolated in the past,” Clarey said. “In Arthur Miller's time, and still today, the witch hunters are alive and well in our culture. Whether rooting out alleged communists, hanging witches, dehumanizing homosexuals, condemning minorities, or fomenting resentment across racial lines, the story is the same; it is just the costumes that have changed."

interACT is a young Essex County theatre company that plans three main stage productions in its upcoming season, including Neil Simon's Plaza Suite and The Full Monty in the spring and a children’s presentation, Charlotte’s Web (Auditions are Tuesday, Oct. 23 and Wednesday, Oct. 24). Past interACT productions have included She Loves Me, The Bad Seed and Godspell. 

More information is available from interACT Theatre Productions or (973)-544-8489. Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts is located at 10 Durand Road in Maplewood.