What a great way to end the week, and kick off the weekend, attending a high school play. My grandson Dayan and I slipped into front row seats at the Carl Junction Performing Arts Center, for the performance of Gramercy Ghost. I was excited, as I knew nothing about this production.
Gramercy Ghost, by John Cecil Holm, was originally published in 1951. Described as a comedy in two acts, the play takes place in the living room of an upstairs apartment in an old house, located on Gramercy Park in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The time period is the 1950s. The Carl Junction production was directed by Carry DeGruson.
Nancy Willard (Kathryn Martinez) has just returned to her apartment after the funeral of her dear friend, the 103 year old woman who owned the ancient house. She is accompanied by Margaret (Sophia Day), who cared for the older woman for years. The pair is quickly joined by Nancy’s fiancé, Parker (Xander Eck), who intends to take Nancy out for dinner and a play later.
Before Parker leaves, there is a surprising visit from lawyer Augusta Ames (Megan Richins). The day takes an astonishing turn. The house has been willed to Margaret. And Nancy learns that she has been given Nathaniel Coombes. Who…or what…Nathaniel is, no one knows.
Just when Nancy believes that she’s alone at last, she has another surprise visitor. Charley Stewart (Alec Hoffman) is a handsome young reporter, seeking a story about Nancy’s now deceased friend. There’s an instant connection between Charley and the pretty Nancy with the bubbly personality. Charley runs out to replenish the bar in the apartment, and Nancy finally discovers what she has been bequeathed.
Nathaniel Coombes (Cade Hensley) seizes the opportunity, in the now quiet apartment, to make his presence known. He was a soldier during the Revolutionary War, killed while trying to get a message to George Washington. His failure to deliver that important message has him earth bound, doomed to stay in the place where he was killed.
Before his death, Nat buried a horn, with the note inside, near an old oak tree growing next to a stream. The stream is long gone, and the house in Gramercy Park has been built on the spot where Nathaniel fell. If the message can be delivered to the descendant of the person who was to carry the note to Washington, then the banishment will be lifted and the soldier can continue his journey to heaven.
Rounding out the cast is Officer Morrison (Blake Willoughby), a funny and easily excited NYC policeman who ultimately wants to help. And Irv (Daniel Reeves) and Rocky (Darian Wilson), comrades of Nathaniel’s who were also casualties of the war. They appear to let their friend know that they are pleading his case in heaven, so that he may join them.
But now that Nat has introduced himself to Nancy, and discovered that she can see and hear him, he doesn’t want to leave. Like Parker, and more recently Charley, Nathaniel loves Nancy and desires to be with her.
It’s a hilarious night of ghostly encounters, blossoming romance, and accusations of insanity as Nancy deals with three suitors and her unexpected inheritance, who has a mission yet to complete.
This was a delightful play, performed to perfection by the Carl Junction Theatre Department. I loved that this was actually a ghost story. The additional elements of romance, mystery and humor made the production highly entertaining.
I was so impressed with these high school performers. Each made a crucial contribution to the play and they were all a joy to watch. The chemistry between Nancy and Charley is a tribute to the actors’ abilities and to their actual relationship off of the stage. These two have promising futures ahead should they choose to pursue the continued exploration of their creativity, as do the rest of the cast members.
I’m grateful that Dayan invited me to attend Gramercy Ghost. I laughed, so hard I snorted once, and clapped with earnest appreciation. And thank you to the Carl Junction Theatre Department for bringing such joy to my Friday evening. Well done.