The Turn Of The Screw

By Jack Neary

Directed by Mary Rynders
October 30 to November 15, 2015

Read the Reviews:
Waukesha Freeman, WaukeshaNOW

Click on a photo to see a larger image

Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Renee Bartos

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.


Kirk Rodriguez


Katie Krueger


Mary Buchel

Mrs. Grose

Paxtyn Robarge


Matt Katka


Kevin Koehne

Peter Quint

Renee Bartos

Miss Jessel

Production Staff 


Mary Rynders

Stage Manager

Donna Redmer

Master Carpenter

Jeff Smerz

Scenic Design Concept

Mark E. Schuster

Set Decorators / Properties Designers

Anne Matthews
Rhonda Trickey

Costume Designer

Harmonie Baker

Lighting Designer

Chris Meissner

Sound Designer

Keith Handy

Wig Master

Erica Cartledge

Scenic Artist

Colleen Glatzel

Assistant Director

Kirk Rodriguez

Assistant Costume Designer

Sharon Sohner

Set Construction Crew

Jen Smerz
Jason Smerz

Costume Construction Crew

Lee Piekarski

Run Crew

Phillip Alonge
Colleen Glatzel
Andrew Gratke
Kirk Rodriguez

'Turn of the Screw' open to interpretation

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
Nov. 5, 2015

WAUKESHA — Henry James has never been an easy read.

"The Turn of the Screw" is a strange tale, one which literary scholars have variously interpreted. I'm sure the audience at the Waukesha Civic Theatre also regarded the play with some degree of ambivalence and befuddlement over many unanswered questions as the play ended.

The story takes place in the 1870s on the remote estate of Master Bly, who has inherited his niece and nephew, Flora and Miles. Their only living relative, he wants nothing to do with them, so he hires a governess to care for them.

The new governess discovers that the previous governess, Miss Jessel, is dead. Master Bly and Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper, are reluctant to discuss her death.

The children themselves are hard to read. Sometimes Miles and Flora get up at night and seem to be communicating with someone.

The title of the story suggests that the tension keeps building, the screws keep tightening. We can feel it and know it can't be good.

Kirk Rodriguez didn't establish much of a persona as Bly. There was no chemistry between him and the governess, performed by Katie Krueger, who nevertheless does a good job. She tries to maintain some composure as she unravels.

The star of the show, however, is the wily housekeeper, superbly played by Mary Buchel. The two children are quite well-portrayed by Paxtyn Robarge and Matt Katka, with Flora being a bit stronger and easier to hear. The "ghosts" of Jessel and Quint are appropriately creepy as rendered by Renee Bartos and Kevin Koehne.

The stage crew certainly had quite a job with setting up 17 scenes. Hats off to stage manager Donna Redmer. Set designer Mark E. Schuster gave us the ambience of a grand estate. The transitional music during the scene changes was well-chosen and sustained the scary atmosphere. Costumes by Harmonie Baker were reflective of what the wealthy would have worn during that time frame. Well-directed by Mary Rynders, overall, it was quite an impressive production of a challenging play.

Review Title

By Reviewer Name
Posted: Month 16, 2012

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Review: Waukesha County Theatre's gothic ghost story keeps its edge

'Turn of the Screw' cast masterfully executes scary tale By Marilyn Jozwik - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
Nov. 3, 2015

Waukesha Civic Theatre picked a perfect play for the Halloween season, based on Henry James' similarly named novella, "The Turn of the Screw."

A creepy ghost story set in 1870s London, the play utilizes a small cast, including two youngsters, who all must find the right tone with their characters to make this play work. And this is a superior cast, which really infuses life into this tale of the dead. A less adept cast could have done damage to this subtle story.

Director Mary Rynders has assembled a quartet of performers who walk the tightrope of this thought-provoking story that keeps the audience guessing who is good and who is evil, who is sane and who is insane, and whether there really are ghosts.

The story centers around a governess (Katie Krueger) — a young, pretty woman who is hired to care for two children, Miles and Flora (Matt Katka and Paxtyn Robarge), whose parents have died. The children's uncle (Kirk Rodriquez) is the children's guardian, but wants nothing to do with them except to pay for their care.

The audience gets an uneasy feeling from the opening scene, in which the uncle discusses the situation with the new governess and questions begin to mount. Is the governess smitten by the master? Why doesn't he want to know anything about the children? How did the previous governess die?

At the home of the children, the governess meets the maid (Mary Buchel), who has been caring temporarily for the children. She seems a capable and reasonable woman, and Flora seems a charming child. Soon after, the governess receives an unsettling letter from the boarding school in which Miles has been enrolled, saying he's been expelled. There is no reason given.

When Miles returns home, the governess is taken by his courtly manners and the household is settling into a happy routine. Until the ghosts appear. Or do they?

"The Turn of the Screw" could provide hours of debate as to whether the governess is a noble heroine whose main concern is the children, or a woman who is slowly going mad. This version seems to have a leaning, judging from the self-satisfied glances of key characters offered to the audience after they meet with the governess at various points during the play.

The cast is led by an amazing performance by Krueger as the governess, an extremely challenging role. Lacking a believable governess would leave the other performers twisting in the wind, but Krueger gives them all exactly what they need in each scene — strength, vulnerability, indignation, fear, caring, a romantic spirit — all done with a most convincing British accent.

Krueger's governess shows her delight at the high-spirited children, pleads desperately with the maid to help her protect them from the evil spirits, pours out her emotions with a quavering voice as the play comes to its dramatic conclusion.

The play also has two remarkable children as Flora and Miles. Robarge is exactly what Flora should be — delightful and precocious, flitting about playfully. You get a bit of her mischievous character when she says, "An active imagination — it's such an attractive quality in me."

Katka's Miles is such a mature performance from a seventh-grader. His character's initial meeting with the governess displays his genteel ways, which win her over. His character evolves over the course of the play, always keeping you wondering just what his intentions are.

As the maid, Mrs. Grose, Buchel also has a difficult role. Her character's interactions with the governess are masterfully done, as the two women volley for position in their relationship, moving from acceptance to hostility. Buchel's look and tone are perfect as the increasingly hysterical governess makes greater demands and insisting that she is being truthful. When Mrs. Grose repeats the governess's command with a grudging "I must believe," it has the perfect tenor for the governess to respond with, "Don't patronize me." And the battle lines are drawn.

Buchel keeps her character very much in control, not tipping her hand with emotional outbursts, keeping an even keel even as the apparitions intensify.

As the ghostly apparitions, Kevin Koehne and Renee Bartos drift in and out of well-drawn scenes effectively with slow, deliberate movements which give gravity to the ghostly aspects.

The show features very rich period costumes that helped set the time frame. Eerie music keeps the mood between scene changes that were sometimes on the lengthy side on opening night. Lighting also captured the ghostly mood with lots of shadows, candlelight and darkened areas.

While the look and music create a good canvas on which to work, it is the quartet of outstanding performances that make WCT's version of "The Turn of the Screw" memorable.

Student rate is available for children and any patron with a current student ID. Senior rate applies to all patrons 60 years or older. Military rate is available for any patron with a valid current Military ID.

For our "Pay What You Can" performances, patrons can buy tickets for that show on the day of the performance at whatever price their budget will allow.

Subscriber rate is available to any subscriber for unlimited additional tickets outside their package.

10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Educational Group Rate is only available for all educational groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops. 10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Volunteer of the Production - Renee Bartos

Although Renee had a small role onstage, her role behind the scenes was integral in having the show run smoothly. Renee helped set the scenes during rehearsal, did odd jobs for both props and wigs, and assisted with multiple costume changes which wouldn't have happened without her help. Renee's dedication to the show was admirable; through rehearsals and performances, she took initiative to ensure the success of the show. Her attention to detail and the needs of others is highly valued in the art of theatre.