Suzi (k00kaburra) wrote,
Suzi
k00kaburra

The Haunting of Winchester

Last night Seanie and I went to the San Jose Rep to check out the world premiere of The Haunting of Winchester, a brand-new musical of local interest because the Winchester Mystery House is a curiousity that frankly, is one of the few things that makes this city special. We had rather premium seats, dead-center, and due to the layout of the theatre the back row is the best place to be, and who can complain for student discount cheap seats?

However, once you remove the curiousity inspired by local folklore, the musical is mediocre, nothing terrible and nothing special. Sarah Winchester moves out west after her husband passes away and begins to build a monstrous house after a vengeful Jack Kerrigan (famed outlaw brought down by a Winchester rifle) impersonating dearly departed Winchester commands her to do so. (In reality, Sarah Winchester consulted a psychic, but I suppose in the interest of paring down excess characters she does all her own spiritual work in the musical.) A complex network of doors, stairways and house-frames make up the set, which plays host not only to Sarah and Kerrigan but a half-dozen other spectres. As time looms on and Sarah grows more connected to the spirit world, she begins to see the spirits haunting her and acts as a clergyman administering last rites to lost souls, who after confessing and showing remorse for various misdeeds are able to move on to the afterlife through Sarah's closet door. Spirits who attempt to move on without remorse fall through the door and into the kitchen sink two stories below. In time, she and Kerrigan fall in love (didn't see that one coming...) and a final confrontation between the spirits of Mr. Winchester and Kerrigan for the heart of the eighty-something Sarah helps bring about the end.

The story is very formulaic; the high moments in the show come from Marisa, a little ghost-girl who died at eleven. Her presence at the mansion remains unexplained until the very end; she speaks in riddles and is quite devoted to the saving Jack Kerrigan's soul.

One curious fact about Sarah that was completely omitted from the musical was that she believed if she kept building and building, she would live forever. The show's Sarah accepted death without any hesitation; in fact, she seemed rather delighted to die. It should also be noted that Winchester's husband was NOT the creator of the Winchester rifle, but his son; to have mentioned that fact would have ruined the final showdown between Sarah's lovers.

If you've ever toured the Winchester Mystery House or been curious about it, the musical's worthwhile to see for the many references to the real Sarah Winchester's monstrous project. However, if you aren't interested in the local story there's little in this musical to entice you - skip it.
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