Lehigh Valley theatre veteran Rody Gilkeson will be directing the new comedy, "The Spectre of Death" written by Charlie Barnett and produced by Crowded Kitchen Players at Between the Lines Studio Theatre September 22- October 1.

Lehigh Valley Stage asked Rody a few questions about his experience with this play, a funky comedy about the fictional death metal band, "The Crypt", who try to re-unite in defiance of advancing age, declining health, and chronic moral turpitude. RODY

LEHIGH VALLEY STAGE: What is there about this play that you particularly like and are drawn to'

RODY GILKESON: I immediately felt a draw to this piece when I read it for the very first time. The fact that Spec, who is an aging rocker, is facing his mortality and being forced to drop his Peter Pan lifestyle is appealing to me. I have a number of former band mates who are just like Spec except on a far less famous level.

LVSTAGE: What genre does this play fit into' What makes it different in any way'

RG: I believe this play would fall into the category of Dramedey ( a combination of drama and comedy ). There is a lot of humor but, at the same time, many of the characters are facing different levels of drama. Anger, loss, love, confusion and jealousy all come to the forefront in this piece.

LVSTAGE: How do you feel your own, unique background as a stage actor and singer, as well as a seasoned musician, has impacted how you are directing this show and helping shape these characters'

RG: I started out as a frontman for a band in high school and spent the last 55 years singing either in bands or in stage productions. I have met a number of musicians like Spec, the lead character in the play. There is something about music/theatre folks who have tunnel vision for their art and miss so much of what is happening in their "real lives". I believe that has certainly helped me in shaping the members of "The Cript".

LVSTAGE: What have been the biggest challenges to getting this production ready for performance'

RG: I would have to say that working as a gypsy theater has presented some problems. I am excited that the challenge of rehearsing in one smaller space and then moving into the theater for the performance has been met with positivity. It's not what I am used to, but it is certainly a learning experience.

LVSTAGE: How difficult was it to cast this production, given the wide range in ages and backgrounds of the characters and the need for both acting skills and a sense of musicality'

RG: It seems that since I have directed quite a few musicals, actors/actresses with both skills came out for the show. I was excited to find such wonderful talent. The most challenging thing will be asking the audience to accept the fact that a few of the actors aren't exactly the age that they should be. It's not a large stretch, perhaps 10 years here and there. Suspend disbelief if you will.

LVSTAGE: What are the particular challenges of directing your spouse in a play' To what extent do you have to distinguish between your personal relationship and your rehearsal relationship'

RG: The surprising thing is, Elizabeth and I have worked together on so many projects the challenges are minimal. I know she is going to deliver a quality performance every time and she trusts me to never let her or the cast down. I would say that when rehearsal is over, we discuss briefly what may need to be improved or changed and then get back to real life. It hasn't always been like that, but as I have aged, I now have taken off the blinders. I don't allow the tunnel vision that I described earlier. She actually would make a really good director if she ever decided to take a project on.

LVSTAGE: What would you hope the audience experiences during and after seeing this production'

RG: I am sure a lot of the audience members would know very little about rock folk. I am hoping that they might leave with a small understanding of what older performers may be going through and how their lives are often "outside the tour bus" as Delilah explains to Spec. Also, as the title suggests, we are all facing the specter of death in one way or another. Sometimes it takes a realization of that fact to make us better, more understanding people.

LVSTAGE: Tell us a little about Between the Lines Studio Theatre, what you like about the space, and what you find challenging.

RG: As I said, being a theatre gypsy is very challenging. This is the first time where I have moved into a performance space with only a few days to get the show ready for an audience. BTL is a really lovely, intimate space that works extremely well for a smaller show like "The Specter of Death". I am sure once the audience comes to see our production, they will want to see more shows at this theater.

For information, visit ckplayers.com or call 610-704-6974