Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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October 6, 2013

Local playwright's work to debut at Palace

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Local theater veteran Jon May didn’t plan on being a playwright. He just wanted to do a play about Jack the Ripper and couldn’t find anything he liked. So he wrote his own script.

On Friday, May’s “Ripper” will open at the Historic Palace Theatre.

Although May has performed in and directed all kinds of plays, from comedy to musicals to dramas, he began thinking about Jack the Ripper after directing a couple of horror classics.

“After Dracula and Frankenstein, I kind developed a fondness for the macabre, and I thought Jack the Ripper sounded kind of cool,” May said. “I read a lot of scripts — some were even musicals — but I couldn’t find one I liked.”

That’s when friend and fellow theater veteran Geoff Koplas suggested May write his own play about the famous serial killer, and the seeds of the script were planted.

It took nearly four years and lots of research, but eventually May developed a full-length play.

The production features 23 actors, all from Western New York, mostly from Lockport and the surrounding area. Theater-goers should recognize a number of the actors as former Four Seasons Players, the group that used to perform at the Kenan Center’s Taylor Theater.

“I am really lucky to have a terrific cast and crew,” May said. “I have either performed with or been involved in a show with every single person in the cast, so it’s really been a great experience for me.”

In fact, the “Ripper” cast is a veritable Who’s Who of local theater denizens. Koplas is the narrator. Other Four Seasons alumni include Peg Merrill (who is also assistant director), Katie Merrill, Kathy Costello, Jennifer Ossant and Carol Williams. Veterans of the Lake Plains Players, Niagara Regional Theatre Guild, Niagara University, Lancaster Opera House and Palace productions have roles in May’s production too.

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