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Chilling tales just right for Halloween

The gooseflesh and chills running up your spine will have nothing to do with the weather if you choose to spend All Hallows’ Eve at The Registry Theatre: it’s precisely the reaction storyteller Mary-Eileen McClear and singer Michael Kelly Cavan are aiming for.

The two will combine their talents in a Halloween performance called Ghosts, Ghouls & Spectres.

Storyteller Mary-Eileen McClear and singer-songwriter Michael Kelly Cavan will be establishing an appropriate atmosphere at The Registry Theatre during a Halloween show Saturday night.
Storyteller Mary-Eileen McClear and singer-songwriter Michael Kelly Cavan will be establishing an appropriate atmosphere at The Registry Theatre during a Halloween show Saturday night.

For McClear, an award-winning storyteller based in Baden, the show is a perfect opportunity to roll out some eerie stories designed to be chilling.

The Halloween evening will feature frightening stories of corpses that leave the grave, and the old Scots tale of a young woman who braves the crossroads on All-Hallows’ Eve to reclaim her lover from the faerie queen.

“Halloween is seen as a time when the veil between the two worlds – the spirit world and our world – is lifted. Ghosts and faeries can travel freely between them,” she said, explaining that her tales will draw from traditional ghost stories and from the treasure trove of Celtic legends.

Irish-born singer-songwriter Cavan’s music will augment the stories, at times helping to set the mood and at others providing a break from the tales of things that go bump in the night. Expect most of the tunes to have a ghostly theme.

There’s a musical version of W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Stolen Child,” for instance, based on Irish legend about faeries that beguile a child to come away with them.

Other songs on the play list include “Ghost Rider in the Sky” and “The Long Black Veil,” which features lyrics that include, “Ten years ago on a cold dark night/someone was killed ‘neath the town hall lights./There were few at the scene, but they all agreed/that the slayer who ran looked a lot like me.”

“The atmosphere and the stories will set the theme of the night … with the music to go along with it, and [at times] providing a little relief from the stories,” Cavan explained.

Both performers are eager to see what kind of audience will turn out at 8 p.m. on Halloween night. The show is not for young children, but rather for adults and older kids, perhaps 10 or 12 years and up.

McClear expects there will be people ready to go out to celebrate the chilling side of the Halloween spirit.

“We all like to be scared. We like that little shiver.”

Her goal is to play up the fear factor so many of us enjoy, which explains our enduring fascination with ghost stories.

Many of the tales McClear will relate stem from the beliefs people used to hold, that there are spirits from the other side, faeries and creatures out there. She’ll also be offering up some advice on how to protect yourself from such spectres. Back in the day, people would carry a horse chestnut. When they’d place their shoes under the bed, they’d make sure that one was facing in and one facing out. They would quickly discard the water used for washing their feet: keeping it inside would be an invitation to evil spirits.

“The audience will go away armed to face what’s waiting out there for them,” she laughed.

Ghosts, Ghouls & Spectres runs one night only, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener. Tickets are $10-$15, available at the Centre in the Square box office by calling 578-1570 or toll free 1-800-265-8977 or online at www.centre-square.com.

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