The play's the thing: Month of talent kicks off in Janesville

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Ann Fiore
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

JANESVILLE—January typically is a slow month for the performing arts—except at the Janesville Performing Arts Center.

JPAC will kick off its first Local Talent Month at 7:30 tonight with the play “Mirror Image” by Jim Lyke of Milton. A composer, a group of teacher/musicians and another playwright are on tap for later this month.

Elizabeth Horvath, executive director of JPAC, said this year's talent month developed naturally around plays. She hopes to spotlight local bands and musicians next year.

“Mirror Image” grew out of a short story in Lyke's 2001 book, “Five Trips to the Edge.”

It's about Eric Wright, a young man who falls in love with the ghost of a murdered woman, Madeline Lovell, who once lived in his house. As they look for a way to release Madeline from her spiritual bondage, they face decisions that test their values.

Lyke calls it “kind of a 'Twilight Zone-y' love story” that mixes supernatural elements, creepiness and humor. (Lyke admits he's always been drawn to comedies.)

The story wasn't an immediate fit for the stage, though, so he made some alterations. Further changes were made by the actors and director Naomi Houser, all of whom worked with Lyke to develop the characters from the ground up.

“It really was an interesting process. I think the story is much improved in play form,” he said.

Lyke, who pays the bills by working as an outdoor advertising salesman, said he had a couple of chances to bring “Mirror Image” to the stage or screen, but they never panned out.

He said he feels fortunate to have worked with a quality cast and with Houser, who as a director “totally understands the script and the characters.”

The cast for “Mirror Image” includes Jonathan Marko as Eric Wright, Candace Griffin as Madeline Lovell, Theron Williams as Trevor Clark, Jesica Altmann as Cheryl Hergott, Pat Hall as Mrs. Jacobson and David Bitter as Dr. Jacob Lemke and a police officer.

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