Playwright’s Note

From the railroad to the telephone, the Victorian era saw an uprecedented growth in science, leading to the idea that there was a natural explanation for everything. But beliefs in the supernatural were too rooted in humanity to die overnight. Hence, the rise of the ghost story. Near the turn of the twentieth century, ghostly apparitions had never been more prevalent in America. They were the UFO sightings of the time, society’s insistence that some things still supersede natural explanation.

Spiritualism is a religious movement based on the belief that the spirits of the dead have advanced beyond mortality and have the abilility and inclination to contact the living with important information. Characterized by spooky séances and flamboyant mediums, spiritualism took root in the 1840s and flourished for a half century without formal organization or texts. It was most popular among middle and upper-class English speakers, peaking at some eight million followers in the United States and England. But from early on, the movement was weakened by accusations of fraud.

Today, in an even more skeptical world, it seems the spirits have all but disappeared, and there truly is a rational explanation for everything. But when we put down our phones, unplug our earbuds, and contemplate life’s big questions, are we any wiser than our predecessors, or are we, more than ever, in need of spiritual guidance?

— Stephen Gashler

Director’s Note

Take My Death Away may be a brand-new musical, but it’s life-lessons are timeless. When I look at this play, I see a familiar theme that sometimes in life we dwell too much on our past. When we focus on what might have been instead of seeing what is in front of us now, we miss out on the opportunity to make our future even more joyful then we may have thought it could be.

Directing a new musical presents additional challenges. When the audience hasn’t heard any of the songs beforehand, it can sometimes be hard to follow the story. I wanted to help emphasize the lyrics and the emotions behind the music with movement and choreography that would help the audience pick up what was happening, even if they didn’t quite get all the words. Being a ballroom dancer myself, I really enjoyed being able to choreograph a full party scene on a crowded stage. I tried to combine dancing-couples along with dialogue and singing to mimic how society used to mingle, as well as add some variety and flavor to the scene.

Just like the characters in the play, we have all suffered loss. We’ve all had days where everything seems pointless and we just want to scream at the world. These are difficult and uncertain times, which makes it even harder. But there is hope ahead, as long as we’re willing to let go of our past and move forward to create a better future. We are meant to do more than just sit around and “MOOOOOOOAAANNN!” (Don’t worry, this will be funny once you see the show.)

— Bethany Taylor

Act 1

  1. The Man on the Hill 1
  2. We Only Live to Die
  3. Shackles
  4. The Man on the Hill 2
  5. Restless Immortals
  6. The Healing
  7. Old Daniel
  8. A New Life
  9. The Man on the Hill 3

    Intermission

    Act 2

  10. All Hallows Eve
  11. The Temptation
  12. Falling Apart
  13. Death Cannot Stop Us
  14. The Devil Went Down to Delaware
  15. Waltz With the Devil
  16. The Sacrifice
  17. Shackles Reprise
  18. A New Life Reprise

Cast / Crew

(In order of appearance)

Gabi Grooms

“Sadie”

Gabi spent most of her childhood performing in musical theatre. Some of her favorite roles and muscicals have been little Cosette in Les Miserables, A Christmas Carol, South Pacific, The Music Man, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She’s honored and blessed to portray the role of Sadie in this haunting musical. She would like to thank her family and friends for the support she has received, and for the wonderful people that are a part of this musical for changing her life.

Amanda Wilson

“Aunt Sarah” / Set Designer

More than a sharp-shootin’ rootin’, tootin’ granny, Amanda Wilson is a great singer, a spectular painter, a brilliant poet, and a joy to be around.

Benjamin Wear

“David” / Dance Captain

Benjamin Wear is delighted to be making his debut with Great Hall Theatrical. He enjoyed performing in Pirates of Penzance at Brigham Young University and is a student in Landscape Management. Benjamin is a native of Utah and has travelled with various dance companies through school.

Nicole Marriott

“Eve” / Dance Captain

Nicole has participated in theatre on and off since high school. She currently teaches theatre at a middle school in Utah County. Her most recent onstage role was Mrs. Potipher in Joseph and the Amazing Techincolor Dreamcoat, and off stage, she tackled the task of trying to put together monologues and scenes for the High School Shakespeare competition.

Ryan Tolman

“Dr. Isaac”

A lad among lads, all his dear friends will say * Has a happy countenance when not shying away * Music and food are things he enjoys * Or outdoors and sports his time doth employ * But above it all the most important he thinks * Are Faith, family, and country, and a clean kitchen sink.

Matthew Davis

”Robert” / Technical Director

Known for his unworldly talent and supernatural stage presence, to know him is to love him. To love him is to fear him. Thus it is better to be feared than loved.

Steve Whitehead

“Robert” (alternate) \ “Vern” (townsperson)

Steve Whitehead was born and raised in Spanish Fork. He has 3 wonderful sons. He has been involved in community theater since 2011, and really enjoys it. He thanks everyone in his life for their love and support. He hopes everyone enjoys the show!

Chelsea Tramell

“Pat” (spirit)

Chelsea is thrilled to be playing Pat! Some of her favorite roles included Toinette - The Imaginary Invalid, Helena - Midsummer Night’s Dream the Musical, Dunoweth - Tristram and Isolde, and Lana Sherwood - It’s A Wonderful Life A Live Radio Play. She would like to thank all her family and friends for all their support, and she hopes you all enjoy this Spooktacular show!

Gary Taylor

“Jesse” (spirit)

Gary is a local small business owner, entrepreneur, and father of four, but still tries to make time for the theater. His favorite roles include being the Police Sergeant in Pirates of Penzance and Argan, the lead character in The Imaginary Invalid. He has thoroughly enjoyed working with his wife as the director and helping accomplish her brilliant vision.

Stephen Gashler

“Dr. Kristoff” / Producer / Playwright / Composer

Stephen Gashler creates musicals, books, and Youtube videos in order to cover the fact that he’s pure evil. The mere sight of him makes little girls cry, which may explain why he won the Utah Hauntings scary storytelling contest twice.

Kaylee Seavers

“Daisy” (Dr. Isaac’s patient)

This is Kaylee’s debut performance in community theatre. She is honored to be dying of tuberculosis, even when Dr. Kristoff accidentally spits in her face. We expect great things from her.

Alyssa Garn

“Joanna” (spirit) / Music Director

Alyssa has had the pleasure to be in several wonderful shows such as The Drowsy Chaperone (Kitty), A Year With Frog and Toad (Frog), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Monty Python’s Spamalot. She enjoys learning more about singing, teaching voice lessons, and pursuing her voice-over career. She is grateful to her husband Trevor for encouraging her to pursue her passions.

Jennifer Pakney

“Victoria” (emcee)

Being a mother to an amazing little girl named Emmalynne, working full time, and going back to school to get her sign language interpreting degree keeps her busy. She is excited to return to the stage to play a role she feels fits her and challenges her. She wants to say thank you to her cheerleader & supporter, Ilias. “I love you and thank you!”

Jeff MacMichael

“Mr. Buckley” (Kristoff’s assistant) / “Demon”

Jeff MacMichael is a fan of technology, props, effects, and all things backstage or spooky. He’s excited to be on stage in Take My Death Away. Jeff is an IT engineer with an encouraging, amazing wife and three great kids. He’s previously worked behind and even on the stage for The Haunting of Hill House, Oliver!, and Mary Poppins, and wants to stage manage for zombie musical Anna and the Apocalypse if it ever comes to the stage.

Reilly MacMichael

”Bob” (spirit) / “Demon”

Reilly MacMichael is an avid fan of theatre and is excited to be spooking the foolish mortals. His interests include Nintendo, reading, Dungeons & Dragons, Nintendo, memes, ice skating, Nintendo, and playing with his siblings. Did we mention Nintendo? Reilly’s previously been in Mary Poppins, The Lion King, Oliver, and School of Rock Jr, and is grateful to be back on stage once again.

Teresa Gashler

”Spirit” / “Mrs. Buckley” (Kristoff’s assistant) / Producer / Playwright / Composer.

Teresa loves working with her husband, even if he’s pure evil and writes outrageous bios for her. She’s as brilliant as she is beautiful. She’s also an amazing mother, entrepreneuer, and singer. Check her out on Youtube.

Bethany Taylor

Artistic Director / Chorographer

Bethany Taylor graduated from BYU with a degree in Dance, specializing in Ballroom Dance, and also plays the violin. Bethany has been choreographing musicals for over 15 years and has done over 35 shows. She has also performed in many of them as an actress, dancer, and a musician. She was excited to be asked to both direct and choreograph this new full musical production of Take My Death Away. As an added bonus, she gets to work with her husband, Gary.

Stephanie Featherstone

Assistant Director / Stage Manager

This is Stephanie’s second show as an assistant director. Last year she had the honor to work with Avonlea Theatre Company’s production of Valhalla | A Nordic Rock Opera, and she’s happy to work again with the Gashlers on their debut show with Great Hall Theatrical. She received her Associate of Arts degree in Theatre Studies from Snow College and is working towards her bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah. She’s employed as an office assistant for two of their on campus child care centers.

Ashton Echols

Audio Engineer

Ashton Echols is from Payson, UT. He loves the arts and seeing community come together. Were it not for Ashton, you would hear nothing. Nothing! Thank you, Ashton. We love you.

Vienna LaRose

Vienna LaRose has been an actress, singer, painter, assistant stage manager, set builder, props manager, costume crew, set run crew, fight choreograpger, and has helped with hair and makeup for many shows over her 15 years of theater experience.

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Praise to Our Sponsors and Patrons!

These are the extraordinary organizations and people that helped make this show possible through their donations and support. Thank you!

  • Nancy Cannon
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  • Adam and Laurie Stradling
  • Jordan Long
  • Zach Watson
  • The Salt Lake Pops Orchestra
  • Lewis Strasburg
  • Jacob Smith

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This isn’t a play or a performance but an immersive theatrical experience. All guests will be invited to come in costume (or as they are) and, over two hours, enjoy gourmet snacks, drinks, and desserts with a small group. A unique set of instructions will be provided to each guest, and a host will guide the group through four suspensful and hilarious rounds of discussion, clue-finding, and role-playing.

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We’re Stephen and Teresa Gashler, the creaters of TAKE MY DEATH AWAY and the owners of Great Hall Theatrical. We don’t just create community theatre, viral videos, and entertaining events. We strive to outdo ourselves with each production by organizing dreamers, inspiring audiences, and pushing creative limits.

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