The Column Online



by Peter Colley

Second Opinion Review

Runway Theatre

Director – Emily-Ann Moriarty
Stage Manager – Harmony Austin
Set Designer/Master Carpenter – Greg Phillips
Scenic Design – Emily-Ann Moriarty
Set Construction/Decoration – Emily-Ann Moriarty, Greg Kozakis, Judy Blalock, Vince Connor, Erin Montgomery, Amber Sebastian
Costume Design – Emily-Ann Moriarty, Misty Baptiste
Sound Design – Jeff Mizener
Lighting Design – Benjamin Keegan Arnold
Props – Emily-Ann Moriarty, Greg Phillips
Lobby Photos – Kris Ikejiri
Program Design - Performing Ads
Opening Night Sponsor Coordinator – Sherry Etzel
Board Liaison – Amber Sebastian

Greg Sanderson – Eddy Herring
Jan Sanderson – Katie Weekley
George Willowby – Neal Gregory
Laura Sanderson – Molly Bower

Reviewed Performance: 1/28/2017

Reviewed by Scott Hazard, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

A good scary play is always lots of fun. It is also a deep endeavor for a director and cast for several reasons. Because it’s live, the theatre doesn’t get to take advantage of tricky editing. Also because it’s live, just like in a comedy, timing is everything. In a farce/comedy, a fast pace, with fast entrances and exits, makes or breaks the show. Timing is also very important for a thriller. The actors must leave just enough dead space to allow peoples’ minds to race a bit before WHAM… they get you with the hook.

My wife and I took in I’LL BE BACK BEFORE MIDNIGHT this weekend. This is a great script to start with, and the statement in the program by director Emily-Ann Moriarty backs that up. She states that she read it, couldn’t put it down and was compelled to bring it to life. A play like this as a directorial debut is ambitious. There are lots of small technical details to which attention must be paid. This group showed up and got that done. This is a fun production to take in.

The story centers around Jan, a lady who just got out of the hospital for four months for a nervous disorder that was triggered by some really messed up family drama. Her husband rents a house in the country where he can finish his research and she can heal, but as you might expect, that’s not quite what happens. There is a neighbor who is also the landlord who is a dark, rather creepy and, at times, hilariously funny character. There is also the sister of the husband who shows up almost unannounced, only to perpetuate the family drama that started it all. I won’t say anymore than that about the plot because this show runs for two more weekends.

Actress Katie Weekley plays the role of Jan Sanderson, the wife. Jan’s arc starts with tired and confused and goes far downhill from there. This role requires lots of detail in facial expressions, timing and acting ability as Jan finds herself in some terrifying situations. Weekley was marvelous in this role. It is so easy to go over the top in a role like this, but Katie Weekley held herself in perfect check and delivered exactly what this character needs to deliver, a believable total psychological breakdown.

Eddy Herring, playing husband Greg Sanderson was very believable in his role of the husband trying his best to be loving and comforting, at least on the outside. The fun of plays like this from the acting standpoint is that some characters have a 180 degree arc to traverse. Greg Sanderson is such a role. Herring played the role of the husband, who is trying his best to finish his research project while accommodating the needs of his recovering wife, very well.

George Willowby, played by Neal Gregory, is a great role. George gets lots of laughs as playwright Peter Colley builds lots of great lines in for George. Neal Gregory was perfect for this role. He played it perfectly and looked the part to perfection. Every one of us has encountered this strange older man with a never-ending supply of odd, scary or purely morbid stories at some time in our life. Neal Gregory was having a great time playing this character. I could tell.

Husband Greg Sanderson’s sister, Laura, was played by Molly Bower. We (the audience) are not quite sure how to take Laura at first. She seems nice enough and truly interested in the good health and happiness of her brother and sister-in-law. As you might have guessed by now, Laura also has an arc. I won’t say any more about her character, but Molly Brewer played her very well, with just the right amount of sincerity… and not!

Overall, every single role in this show is a fun role for an actor. Each character has their own unique blend of issues and their own agenda. This is a very well-written play and such plays usually produce rich characters. Great job by all actors in this show!

The technical aspects of this show are not wildly difficult, but they are very important to set and maintain the mood. It is also critically important that technical aspects are timed and executed perfectly and at proper and consistent volume levels. Kudos to Sound Designer Jeff Mizener for sound cues that were spot on. The sounds for the show were believable and fit perfectly. The music selections for the evening were very effective at presenting a mood. The closing musical selection at the end of Act I was especially nice.

The lighting for this show was designed by Benjamin Keegan Arnold. Of course the lighting is also very important for the mood. This show employs a few effects done with lighting that were very well done. The fact that this is such a great theatre for visibility and there is not a bad seat, make lighting both important and just a little bit easier, but that is not to take anything away from the fact that this show is well lit and that was not done by accident.

Tie in the excellent lighting and sound design with great props (Emily-Ann Moriarty and Greg Phillips) and what you get is a show with very solid technical execution. Put all of that on top of the perfect country home, a set built by Set Designer/Master Carpenter, Greg Phillips, and you get a show that lives up to what the ancient Greeks originally wanted theatre to be… a believable re-creation of real life events. I have to credit director Emily-Ann Moriarty with a great job in bringing all of these elements together… much less in her directorial debut. Something tells me we will be seeing more shows directed by her.

Overall, this is a really fun evening of theatre. I’LL BE BACK BEFORE MIDNIGHT offers an evening of theatre unlike many, in that you will feel the intensity and the drama. The fact that this production is so well done in every aspect just makes your evening at the Runway Theatre that much better. Go see this show! It’s a good one.

Runway Theatre, 215 N. Dooley St.Grapevine TX 76051
Plays through Sunday, February 12th

Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sunday matinee at 3 PM. Adults: $20, Seniors: $17
Age 18 & under and college students with ID: $17. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the box office, which opens one hour before show time.