Anaconda Ensemble Theatre offers a creepy opening to the Halloween season with its production of The Margins, 7 p.m. Oct. 13-15 and 20-22 at The Tammany Ballroom in the Old Montana Hotel.
The Margins, written by David Skeele, is loosely based on the true story of The Philip Experiment in Toronto in the 1970s, where five paranormal investigators and a skeptical reporter visit a haunted manor to create and raise a spirit as a psychic experiment – until that experiment goes horribly better than they imagined.
“I think it’s interesting to delve into a spooky show especially this time of year. as we are cultivating audiences – it’s nice to have a range of shows so that we can try to bring in a range of audiences as well,” says producer and actress Jackie Vetter. “I also love horror on stage, because when you are buying in, it’s not the same as a movie: you can’t turn it off. So the live experience is ultra-spooky!”
Blane Pressler – an accomplished director from New York City – directs a cast of seasoned actors, including Vetter, Mikey O’Brien and Tashia Gates, plus local amateurs Steve Collins, David Coleman II and Caleb Hill.
For Vetter, this mix of professional and amateur talent is part of what sets Anaconda Ensemble Theatre apart. All actors are paid,” she says, “but it’s a mix of professionals who are honing skills and investing artistically in our local community, as well as amateur actors gaining professional skills alongside our pros. We are all learning and growing together, no matter what level we are at.”
Darrion McCracken is stage manager of The Margins, and the play’s setting in the Tammany Ballroom of the historic hotel lends to the “rustic but classic” atmosphere. They’ve added chandeliers and the brick walls “are stunning and really fill out the look of our set,” Vetter says.
In addition, the cost of renting the space is paid to the Anaconda Restoration Association for the continued renovation of the building – “a win-win for the community.”
The Margins is rated R, and recommended for ages 18 and up. Tickets are $20 and available online; advance purchase is recommended due to limited capacity.
AET launched in 2022 with a production of “The War of the Worlds” at the Washoe Theatre in Anaconda, followed by “Actor Roulette: A Christmas Carol,” which toured Butte, Anaconda, and Philipsburg, and ended their first season with The Montana Premiere Project in February 2023 ,which featured “Wife” by Shaun Gant, “Landering Truth” by Robert Holter, and “That’s What She Said” by Cynthia Webb.
Season Two started with a Community Reading Series, featuring t readings at the Hickory House Inn, the Coffee Corral and in the lobby of the Washoe.
AET aims to create culture for the community by empowering artists to engage and challenge audiences and include people of all artistic backgrounds.