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RUE MORGUE On The Red Carpet! Horror Play “GREY HOUSE” Starring Laurie Metcalf Opens on Broadway

Friday, June 2, 2023 | Exclusives, Interviews, Stage Fright


Cast members weren’t the only ones experiencing stage fright Tuesday night, as the new horror play GREY HOUSE opened at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre. The show offers a uniquely scary theatrical experience that’s atypical for Broadway, as it evokes all the qualities of a terrifying A24 horror thought-provoker without the protective barrier of a movie screen. Like its characters, you’re trapped in GREY HOUSE with your fears. .. and they won’t let you leave.

The plot is deceptively familiar: When a couple crashes their car in the mountains, they seek shelter in an isolated cabin. Its inhabitants, though somewhat unusual, are eager to make their guests feel right at home. But as the blizzard outside rages on and one night turns into several, the couple becomes less and less sure of what’s true – about their hosts and themselves. And why does that sound in the walls keep getting louder? Two-time Tony Award winner Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne, Scream 2) stars in this first-of-its-kind Broadway experience alongside Emmy Award winner Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Emmy nominee Paul Sparks (House of Cards), Lortel Award nominee Sophia Anne Caruso (School For Good And Evil), and Critics’ Choice Award nominee Millicent Simmonds (A Quiet Place), with direction by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (The Humans, Wicked), and a script by Levi Holloway.

Ricky J. Duarte, our man on the red carpet, brings legitimate theatre to RUE MORGUE

Being both a horror journalist and an actor myself, I was fortunate enough to attend the red carpet (a first for RUE MORGUE) and pick the brains of the talented cast and creative team behind this terrifying new production – as well as some celebrity attendees. We discussed the play, acting and the appeal of horror on stage. I also wanted to know what scares them.


(NOTE: Tatiana Maslany, who plays “Max” in GREY HOUSE, was out sick for the opening performance. Her understudy, Claire Karpen, went on in her place. Photo credits: Michaelah Reynolds, Brian W. Smith and Ricky J. Duarte)


Congratulations on this opening!

Laurie Metcalf: Thank you very much!

I have to say, you are very well-known for picking very smart material. What exactly drew you to GREY HOUSE?

Oh! That’s so interesting that you say that. Different things draw me to different projects for different reasons, so my number one priority on this one was that it had been three years since I’d been able to do any theatre – since Covid. Second, was I wanted to work with Joe Mantello, who’s my favorite director – ever! And then, Joe saw something in the play that made me intrigued by the play, and I wanted to be in the room with everybody to figure it out.

You have an innate talent for finding levity and humor in some very unexpected – and in this piece, very scary – places. How much of that did you find on the page? How much of it did you come up with in rehearsal?

A lot of it’s on the page, which you don’t expect, and those are home runs. They’re bulletproof, you know, everyone’s gonna get a laugh on them. And then other things – sometimes we find them in the [rehearsal] room, and they’re accidental surprises that maybe make Joe crack up or someone in the cast, and then we keep them! [Laughs]

What scares you?

Well, the unknown, and there’s some of that in here because we’re left with a lot of … You know, Levi [Holloway] doesn’t tie things up, needless to say.

(Laurie went on to discuss her favorite moment in the show, but I promised I wouldn’t give anything away. I did make sure to let her know RUE MORGUE readers would be excited to hear from Scream 2’s Mrs. Loomis herself and that her iconic Ghostface status lives on today, at which she smiled, remarking, “Oh!”)


Congratulations on your Broadway debut! You’re making the transition from horror on the big screen in A QUIET PLACE to horror on stage in GREY HOUSE! How does it feel?

Millicent Simmonds: I’m excited! Very nervous. This has been an amazing experience.

The sign language used in the play is period-appropriate, utilizing 1970s ASL “lingo.” How familiar were you with this style of signing and some of this vocabulary?

I was familiar with some of the language but not all of it. Our director of artistic sign language, Andrew Morrill, did a wonderful job of researching and incorporating a style of sign from that time period using a lot of English Sign Language rather than American Sign Language, and I’m very grateful to work with him.

What are you afraid of?

Everything, really. And definitely spiders!


Your character, Marlowe, has a lot of weight to her and a lot of mystery. How do you approach a role like this without revealing too much of her too soon?

That’s a really good question! I think that Marlowe is the smartest person in the room, and I think that she doesn’t always need to show it. It just comes off her throughout. She’s so far ahead that I, as the actor, don’t show too much of it because I don’t want our audience to get ahead of what’s happening, and with such a complex piece like this, I think that would be hard. Less is more sometimes. I think the most powerful person in the room is the person who’s calm and the person who’s in control – and she’s so in control. I, from day one, have thought of her as a puppeteer almost, like she puppets a little bit [mimics marionette gestures]. She’s done this before. She lives in the house. She’s just really in control and I don’t need to go too ham on anything. I think the writing does a strong enough job of it.

It doesn’t come across as arrogance, it’s just that … she knows.

She almost sometimes feels like riddles when I talk, but she knows what she’s talking about. I spent a lot of time with the text trying to figure out what the hell Marlowe is talking about. And so, I know, and Marlowe knows, and that’s all that needs to be known.

What scares you?

SAC: What scares me?! The original 1970s When a Stranger Calls. No hate on the remake, but the original is, by far, one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen!

Carol Kane! What a performance! Have you seen the sequel, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS BACK? It’s worth watching!

It is worth watching! I’m just a fan of the original. I remember I watched that for the first time in a cabin in the woods in winter, which is funny, because… [gestures at the theatre, implying the play’s setting]


You play a character who undergoes an extreme change. As a seasoned, celebrated actor, this might be a change we’ve not seen you go through before. How do you find something new in a piece like this?

I think it always starts with the script; you know? One of the interesting things about Levi’s scripts was sort of how dense – even though the play, at times, can feel a little bit hard to figure out what’s going on, when you really study it, and you really realize how dense the characters are written – there was clearly an enormous arc for this guy to go through, which was really interesting for me. You know, I just start at the beginning and started tugging on threads and seeing where it takes me, and, yeah, this has been one of the hardest things I’ve worked on; It’s been very, very difficult to find, but I think it’s one of the great things about the [horror] genre – that it affords that things don’t have to be so totally kitchen-sink. They can also be theatrical, and I think that’s what’s so beautiful about the play but also about the journey I get to go on.

When you see the pages, when you’re first reading the script, do you read the climax of this show and what happens and immediately start putting together your approach to it, or do you wait until you’re in the rehearsal room?

I think I knew from the beginning. When I read the beginning of the play, I’m like, okay, this relationship between this man and this woman is something super important I have to figure out. So there certainly are some clues in the end, but it’s hard to imagine in a show like this what it’s gonna be. When I spoke to [director] Joe Mantello, initially, we were both like, “I’m not totally sure what this will look like, but I do know that it feels like the breadcrumbs are there for us to follow that it goes somewhere that’s interesting.”

With all the talent on this piece, it landed right where it needed to. I have one more question: What scares you?

I think I’ve always been afraid of being a little out of control or not knowing. Inconsistency is something that frightens me. Not being able to predict what’s next. It’s scary sometimes to be an actor because it’s hard to predict. What is it gonna be? It’s scary to be in this country that we’re in right now.Those kinds of things scare me. And then I’m afraid of sharks. I grew up with Jaws. I’m afraid of sharks.

LEVI HOLLOWAY (Playwright)

RUE MORGUE is a horror magazine, so our readers might not be entirely a theatre-going audience. If this is going to attract that sort of audience, what do you hope they take away from a play like this?

Well, I think that this play transcends the genre itself, but certainly, I’m a horror buff, myself, so if anybody is half as passionate as I am, I think it’ll find great impact with them. We do some jump scares, but mostly it’s psychological and a bit of a puzzle box – some math for the audience to do, and I love work that trusts the audience to do that.

And it takes a lot of trust from the audience. There’s a lot in this piece that’s not plainly spelled out for the audience. What were your intentions in writing this for audiences? Do you want them to walk away understanding exactly what you were saying?

I want to leave room on the page for the audience to interpret what they want to. Usually, the audience can walk away with something even more profound than what I’ve thought of. But for me, my intent is that all the clues are hiding in plain sight, and for me, it’s a pretty straightforward story and you need only survey the entire set to sort of understand what’s going on from the jump.

I have one more question for you: What scares you?

Oh my gosh! What scares me? My nightmares scare me. I’ve always had night terrors. I’ve always been afflicted with them. I love them. I write about them, but they scare the shit out of me, for sure.

SCOTT PASK (Scenic Design)

The House feels like a part of the cast…

It’s a character, definitely. It’s a character in the play.

How do you approach creating such an atmosphere within the horror genre?

We’re playing to psychological drama, for sure, and that we elicit a jump scare once or twice is a great thing as well. The first play I did that was in this vein was The Pillowman, where the specter of surrealism alongside psychological drama, horror, all of that. But the darkness of it all and the darkness of this play, that comes from our playwright’s nightmares, and then putting that into a physical manifestation, starting with the time, 1977 [and] a cabin in the woods. And then running with it – understanding that there’s a way people need to move through that space, the places that we don’t see that our characters are going to or coming from [and] moving through. And then enhancing it with the colors and textures of what that space wants to be, to be more intriguing. So much of the wood – all of the visible wood – is reclaimed, some of it over a hundred years old, so there’s building these layers into this house, making sure that it’s “1977.” So for me, the house is a good deal older and then has been added onto over the years, so how to cobble that space together so that it looks like it’s been made at different times. Floors that are revealed after a carpet is pulled up; Then something is shockingly there. And then subtle things [like] the subtle staircase wall that I call “The wall of visitors…”

Those antlers!

But also all the photographs of people that have been there before. I love it. I always feel that that coexisting with a little humor is helpful, too, and then also knowing that there’s sugar cereal around, just stocked in visible pantries and a sunny toaster oven. There’s just a toaster that’s sun-yellow with these daisies on it, so you throw some of these things in there to make it all, hopefully, gel together.

You’re listing all of these details that I was going to bring up myself because they don’t go unnoticed. It all gels together incredibly well.

Oh, good, I’m so glad!

What scares you?

Oh, man!

That’s been everybody’s response!

There’s a lot of dark places we could go with that question! A bad review? [laughs] That’s sort of scary. But I think there are bigger things to be scared about than that…

CYNDI COYNE (“The Ancient”)

RJD: Congratulations on opening night!

Thank you, it’s so exciting. I’ve never done Broadway before, so it’s my debut!

It’s huge! You play a very mysterious, creepy character…

Yes! So … mum’s the word!

I won’t give anything away, but I’m curious, how much work did you do versus what was given to you about the history of your character?

Well, the history of the character is somewhat built into the play. I relate it to a broader sense of history with women in general, so there’s a lot of strength and a lot of things we’ve had to deal with. And it comes out in an extreme case here. That’s the history I perceive from the character.

There is an impactful, truly scary moment with you that gets a big reaction. Does that excite you?

Oh, yes! [laughs] I feel like the luckiest person on the planet, every time. I mean, I haven’t done acting for quite a while, but when I did – and I [also] write – I’m very used to making people laugh, so this is a new one.

I always say horror and comedy are two sides of the same coin because they both elicit a reaction.

Yes, the reaction is wonderful. It’s very exciting, and it’s just… The whole play is really exciting. It’s funny. It’s a ride. It’s like being in a funhouse. And yet, it’s also very soulful, and it really says a lot, and it raises questions, and some of them get answered –  but some questions aren’t answered.

It demands a repeat viewing, I think.

Yeah, it’s deep and layered, and Joe Mantello (director) did an amazing job.

What scares you?

Ooh, um…  You know, so many things scare me, but I’ve had kind of a full life. Like …I’ve given birth. To me, it’s like, after that, everything else … your fear sort of turns into excitement.

COLBY KIPNES (“Squirrel”)

You get to play a very unruly, scary child. How much of that is in you – in your personality?

[Giggles menacingly] I definitely like scaring people a little bit. I can be a little mean at times. Not mean-mean, just a little… [laughs] a little feisty. I think I relate to the character. I’m honest!

It shows! You’re very good at scaring people! You deal with some material in this that a lot of actors your age don’t get to deal with. Does that excite you?

So much! I think this is a show that not a lot of people get to be in, so I’m so happy and excited. I love this show so much.

What scares you?

What scares me? High heights and spiders! More spiders than heights.


Congratulations on tonight. The play is brilliant and scary and sad and you’re a big part of why. You play a very serious, grounded role, yet she’s a very young, kind and smiling child. How do you handle that juxtaposition with such maturity at your age?

It was a lot of work with Levi [Hollaway] and Joe [Mantello] to kind of flesh out the character. That’s exciting for the audience, as [with] everything with the show, to make it as entertaining and mysterious to best serve the story.

What scares you?

Oh! [Laughing] So many things! I’m not a big snake person. I could go without snakes.

ANDREW MORRILL (Director of Artistic Sign Language)

I’m decently fluent in ASL, yet as I watched the show, I was trying to follow along and found myself having trouble. I found out later that much of the sign language used is actually from the 1970s. It’s not modern ASL. Do you think many of your deaf audience members will be familiar with this lingo? Does it live on?

A lot of it is from the ’70s. Languages change over time; They evolve. The essence is there, I would say. Some will understand it, and some won’t.

You’ve added such a genuine and authentic feel to this piece. Your work is so beautiful. It feels so organic and involved in the show.

Thank you. I hope so!

What scares you?

What scares me? Nothing really scares me. I mean, okay, what I would say… What scares me? The erasure of my culture and language. [Deaf culture; sign language] That’s deep, I know! Sorry I went there!

That’s very scary, and it’s wonderful that you are here to ensure that doesn’t happen.

(In addition to the cast and creative team of the show, the red carpet was filled with celebrity attendees as well. Below are some of the conversations I had with them.)


Have you ever seen anything frightening on stage before?

On stage? No. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a scary play on stage, no.

How much of an audience do you think there is for a piece like this?

I hope there’s a big one because my friend is in the show! So I want it to do well!

What scares you?

Uh… museums. The power of the paintings. Sometimes if I’m in a room by myself, I get overwhelmed.


You are no stranger to thrillers, suspense and genre. Hello, Jurassic Park! How do you do, sitting through scary movies?

Well, I do like it! So that helps me. I’m not one of those people that is afraid or averse to it. I really lean into it, I think it’s great. I’m almost amused by a group of people sitting in the dark, experiencing this thing together, and if it successfully affects them the way the authors intended it to affect them, then I’m just on for the ride. I just love that!

Have you ever seen anything frightening on stage before?

BDW: I’ve seen multiple productions of Wait Until Dark, which is really, really fun and scary. It’s great when it works!

It’s an interesting time for Broadway. We have GREY HOUSE, Sweebet Todd and Little Shop of Horrors playing just down the street. Do you think there’s an audience for horror on stage?

Of course, yeah! It’s like I said, it’s a challenge. It’s probably on the top of the list of most challenging things to pull off, right? So if you can pull it off, I’m just all for a great audience experience and people pushing the envelope and keeping the bar high, doing things that are hard to do. I love that.

What scares you?

[Laughs] I’ve been asked this tonight already, and I don’t like answering because I’m ashamed of it!

Oh no!

It’s umbrellas! [Laughs]


You grew up with your Roseanne co-star Laurie Metcalf. You’ve worked with her your entire life. Are you nervous or excited to see her in a piece so unlike anything you’ve ever seen her in before?

Of course! I mean, she is one of the greatest actresses in the world. So not only is she someone that I love to work with, but she’s someone I really admire. She basically can do anything, so I’m really excited to see where she goes tonight.

Are you feeling nervous about getting scared during the play?

Um, I wasn’t, but…now that people are talking about it! [Laughs] And I know that Laurie will go for it, so I have a feeling that she will be the one to fear.

What scares you?

What scares me the most is heights. You know, falling. Falling off a cliff. Falling off a canyon. Falling off the top of a building … It gives me a full-body shiver every time I think about it.

Ricky J. Duarte speaks with actor Michael Urie


RJD: Have you seen anything scary on stage before?

Yeah, well, I know I’ve been in some scary things that were scary because of how terrible they were. [Laughs] No, I’ve seen a couple of scary plays over the years. It’s hard to pull off, but when you have a team like this, you walk in scared. I’m walking in scared.

Have you heard any spoilers yet?

No, I’ve heard nothing. I’m intentionally avoiding [them].

It’s worth going in blind, for sure. I just reviewed your film Summoning Sylvia for RUE MORGUE.

Speaking of horror!

I loved it. It deserves a place instantly in queer culture. It’s so fun. So funny! The whole cast is perfect.

They’re great! I came in late to that. When I joined them on the set, it was really cool. They had a whole thing going on, shot mostly in that old house, which is creepy, and they were an amazing ensemble. [Directors] Wes [Taylor] and Alex [Wyse] did such a great job on that.

What scares you?

I’m scared of horror movies, for sure. [Gestures to his partner] That’s my partner right there; He loves horror movies. He’s always talking me into watching them. In fact, when we first started dating, I was like, “Please don’t make me watch these.” At a certain point, I was like, “I have to be honest. I can’t watch these movies anymore.” I’m also scared of sharks. And fires. This is because of Jaws, and when I was a kid, a house burned down, down the street. No one was hurt, but it was very scary, and that was imprinted on me. And Jaws, a  movie – with a mechanical shark.

Yeah, well, it’s a really good movie.

Really good movie! Really effective, and it keys into the actual terror of the unseen.

Keep an eye on RUE MORGUE for our upcoming review of GREY HOUSE. The show is currently playing at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre in New York. Tickets are available now.

Ricky J. Duarte
Ricky is a writer, actor, singer, and the host of the "Rick or Treat Horrorcast" podcast. He lives in a super haunted apartment above a cemetery in New York City with his evil cat, Renfield, and the ghosts of reasons he moved to NYC in the first place., @RickOrTreatPod