Lyke has since developed the short story into the play “Mirror Image” that will be performed at the Janesville Performing Arts Center as part of Local Talent month.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 9 through Jan. 11, at JPAC, 408 S. Main St.
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“Mirror Image” is about a personal trainer, Eric Wright, who moves into a home that is haunted by the spirit of a woman, Madeline Lovell, who was murdered there many years ago. Wright ends up falling in love with the woman and tries to figure out a way to free her from her “spiritual bondage.”
“I thought it had potential to work as a play or as a film. I’m glad JPAC saw this as a story that could work as a play,” Lyke said. “I felt it had the potential to have some staying power.”
Lyke said there are some differences between the short story and stage versions.
“I needed to change the work from a short fiction to a play,” Lyke said. “I needed to change the location. I needed to add some characters to the play. I needed to put in some characters that weren’t in the story. I needed to have a best friend for the main character. He needed someone to talk to about his situation. Those are some of the changes that I needed to make.”
The play is being directed by Naomi Houser, her first stage production.
“It’s been exciting. I’ve done some directing at Renaissance fairs, but this is different,” Houser said. “With theater, you have to think about props, casting and the set. It’s been fantastic.
“Jim Lyke has popped in every now and then ... It’s been an exciting first directing experience. If they asked me to do it again, I would.”
Houser and the cast members have been working on the play since early November. “Mirror Image” features a cast of six actors.
“We’ve been hitting it really hard about three to four nights a week since November. There’s four main actors and two actors who play multiple characters,” Houser said. “It’s sort of like in a Greek drama. They’re important characters, but they’re not main characters. The main character is onstage most of the time. We have two cast members who play Madeline. One is on the stage during the first act, and the other is onstage during the second act. Part of that has to do with the plot twists.”
Lyke said he’s impressed with the time that cast members are putting into the production.
“It’s just humbling to go to the rehearsals and see people dedicated to bringing something you wrote to life. They’ve spent many hours on something that I’ve created,” Lyke said. “I’ve stayed out of it. Naomi Houser has been terrific. She has an understanding of the characters inside and out.
“I don’t see a reason to interfere. I feel like a farmer sending a pig to market. You know it’s going to come back as a nice piece of bacon.”
Audience members will enjoy “Mirror Image,” Houser said.
“It’s fantastic. I read the short story version about two years ago,” she said. “The short story is a little bit different than the play. There’s some comedic interaction between Eric and his friend, Trevor, in the play, which breaks up some of the drama.
“There’s definitely a nice, dark twist at the end. I don’t want to give away too much, but at the end you will feel sorry for the main character, but then you realize he got what he deserved.”
The audience will enjoy the characters, Lyke said.
“All the characters are flawed. A couple of them make moral judgements that are not exactly the best,” Lyke said. “There’s a lot of twists in the story. My hope is that people will walk away and feel they got emotionally involved with the characters and the story.”
This is the second story that Lyke has written that has been developed into a play for the Janesville Performing Arts Center. The first play, “Janesville in Stages,” was a fictional account about the history of Janesville told through the eyes of the performing arts center building. The play was performed in 2004.
“I guess every 10 years, I get a play that gets to be presented (at the Janesville Performing Arts Center),” Lyke said.
Lyke, who also writes a monthly column for the Messenger, is not certain if he will write any more books, but he said he would like to write more plays.
“I don’t think I have the patience to do another book, but I would like to do more plays,” Lyke said. “I would like to do a play featuring the cast of ‘Mirror Image.’ I would like to do more of a comedy than a drama. I like the cast of the play, and I would like to work with them.”
Local Talent Month is a good way to help promote the talent that’s located in the Janesville area, Lyke said.
“I think it’s a terrific idea. I think it’s a great opportunity not just for me, but for the other local artists, as well,” Lyke said. “It’s an opportunity to showcase the local talent. It’s amazing how many talented people there are in Rock County. It’s even more amazing how many talented young people there are. I hope people come out and support this.”
Houser said she hopes Local Talent Month will become an annual tradition. She said it will give local artists an opportunity to showcase their work.
“There’s so much talent in Janesville. It’s nice that the Janesville Performing Arts Center and the Janesville Arts Alliance are working together to get the works out there,” Houser said. “I moved from Madison to Janesville in 1995, and some of the things I missed about Madison were the arts and the museums.
“It’s nice to see that Janesville is beginning to promote its artists. Hopefully, the tradition will last. It’s nice to see people supporting local writers, artists and actors. Hopefully, it opens more doors for artists in the future, and that it will show that something you wrote 20 years ago can be onstage today.”
Local Talent Month
“Mirror Image”: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, through Saturday, Jan. 11
University of Wisconsin-Rock County Orchestra concert: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16
“Rock the School House”: featuring music from Janesville School District teachers, 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18
“White Buffalo”: written by Janesville native Don Zolidis, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24 and Jan. 25, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26
Elizabeth Horvath flute recital: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31