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Canterville Ghost provides spooky good fun

Frederick-based ESP’s actively staged reading enthusiastically received

No ghost likes to be ignored – especially by a common American family.

That was one of the central themes of The Canterville Ghost, presented Sunday afternoon by the Frederick-based Endangered Species Project (ESP). The actively staged reading adapted from an Oscar Wilde short story was the first performance in the Daniel E. Offutt III Theatre, the central jewel in the new Performing Arts Center at Garrett College.

Robert Leembruggen – a veteran actor and director who won the 2014 Indie Capital Awards for Best Supporting Actor in The Henchman’s War – portrayed the severely offended (and impressively funny) spectral presence. His best efforts at garnering a little ghostly respect from the Otis Family – the new owners of a haunted English castle – usually ended with him floating back to his room in disgrace.

Daughter Virginia Otis (ably played by Deanna Kinzie) is originally afraid of the ghost, whose proper name is “Sir 

Photo by John Rudd

Dan Jacoby, left, and Talia Segal perform during Sunday’s actively staged reading of The Canterville Ghost in the Offutt Theatre.

Simon de Canterville.” The rest of the family, however, infuriates Sir Simon by their total lack of dread. While older family members keep trying to offer helpful advice (such as Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator to oil his rusty chains), the Otis twins are constantly counter-attacking with toy peashooters, tripwires and falling buckets of water.

However – and here comes the spoiler alert – all ends well when Virginia eventually teams up with the ghost to help him gain forgiveness for his earthly mistakes and make it to “the other side.”

Christine Mosere – ESP’s artistic director who also served as director for Sunday’s performance – said the cast was honored to be the Offutt Theatre’s opening production, which was sponsored by the Garrett Lakes Arts Festival (GLAF).

“When we walked in here, every one of us said, ‘It’s so beautiful,’ ” said Mosere. “And they [Sunday’s patrons] were a great audience. You’re never sure how an audience is going to react to an actively staged reading – it’s not a full-out production – but the audience was so warm and welcoming.”

“It’s really the most wonderful place I’ve played in at least 18 years,” said Dan Jacoby, whose multiple roles Sunday included eldest son Washington Otis. “It’s a beautiful space. I’m thrilled we could help open it.”

Zach Trautwein, who coordinates sound and lighting for the PAC, said the facility “is beautiful and functional” and “will serve the county well.”

“The first performance was smooth and everyone seemed to feel at home in the space,” added Trautwein. “From a tech perspective, the systems worked wonderfully, leaving just a few minor things to iron out.”

“The opening of the PAC marks a lifetime of achievements for many people in our community,” said Mary Mateer Cummings, executive director of both GLAF and the PAC. “Sunday’s performance was a celebration of the members of our performing arts community – both today’s and those of the past – that labored in love to keep the arts alive and thriving in Garrett County.”

GLAF’s next PAC performance will be Ellis Dyson and the Shambles on October 29th. For more information, go to

“Ellis Dyson and the Shambles expertly blends old-time influences ranging from early New Orleans Jazz to Piedmont Murder Ballads, which will be sure to please our patrons,” said Cummings.