Rust Belt Theater to present the premiere of ‘Madhouse’



“Madhouse,” a dark comedy by Robert Dennick Joki, will premiere this weekend at Rust Belt Theater Company.

The play centers on a woman named Elizabeth, who has always seen faces in things such as houses, cars, trees and household objects.

Triggered by the sudden death of her brother, she begins to believe that inanimate objects are speaking to her, influencing her life in ways she never thought possible.

The show uses a projection screen to give audience members a glimpse through the main character’s eyes. When objects “come alive” and begin to speak, their photos are flashed on the screen. Cast members provide the voices for the objects.

Joki said he has always used humor to get through difficult times, and his script for “Madhouse” reflects that practice.

“It’s definitely got some of the over-the-top, risque humor that Rust Belt audiences are used to, but there are also more poignant and introspective moments because it’s ultimately a play about dealing with the death of a loved one,” he said.

Joki, who is the founder and executive director of Rust Belt, said he wrote the play as “a little piece of artistic therapy to deal with some major losses in my life.”

The cast includes Kage Coven, Lisa Torrence, Celena Coven, Heather Powell, Ryan Musgrove, Mary James and Marisa Zamary.

“Madhouse” will run for four performances: Friday, Saturday and March 24 and 25 at 8 p.m. each night.

Tickets are $15 ($10 for seniors and students). For reservations, call 330-507-2358. Rust Belt Theater is inside Calvin Center, 755 Mahoning Ave., near downtown.

“Madhouse” is the first of three new scripts by Joki that Rust Belt Theater will produce this year.

The second will be “Miss Tuesday Night,” a musical about drag pageants and small-town gay bar culture that will run June 2-17.

The third will be “Emily Dickinson: Vampire Slayer,” which will be presented in the fall.

Rust Belt Theater also will be the venue for the premiere of a new musical, presented by the Millennial Theater Company, in May.

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