Andres Garcia, Bella Kuta, Alex Richardson, Emma Regnier, and Sarah Goodall in Spooky Pete

Haus of Ruckus – the theatrical team headed by artistic directors T Green and Calvin Vo – is making some welcome noise onstage again. Their debut production premiered just one year ago, and Spooky Pete is their fifth show at the Mockingbird on Main, all of which they co-wrote and one or both directed, acted in, designed, and promoted. Plus, Green and Vo took on major roles in Genesius Guild's July production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and co-wrote, directed, acted in, etc., Guild's August presentation of The Frogs. That would be about three years' worth of work for ordinary mortals like you or me (or maybe just me). Thankfully, they'll let you enjoy the harvested results of their labors without you ever having to pick up a hoe, so I was happy to attend opening night of Spooky Pete.

If you saw their first show, “Jacques”alope, you'll recognize the "sudden vehicle trouble on a road trip" inciting incident. But this time, Vo and Green are not in the car. Instead, we meet a group of college students. Emma Regnier plays the driver Frank – "the bro you love to hate," according to the program, and I can't improve on that description. Bella Kuta portrays Stacy, who is dim, yet loyal. Andres Garcia plays Cool Ricky, who is loyal, yet dim. Alex Richardson is the amiable, clueless Andrew, while Sarah Goodall plays Tara, a disaffected punk/Goth chick. (All but Richardson – a frequent area playwright and director, oftentimes for the Mockingbird – are veterans of other Haus of Ruckus productions.)

Max Robnett, Cavin Vo, and T Green in Spooky Pete

Anyway, the car problem strands them, and a mysterious man (played by T's father Terry Green) warns them not to go to a nearby ominous mansion. So they don't go there, and everything's fine. Kidding! That mansion they go to is populated by creatures: supernatural ones, scientific mishaps, and/or of unknown origin. T Green, performing wonderfully as always, plays Spooky Pete, a monstrous, (fittingly) green-clad, Paul-Lynde-ian brute who is actually a well-dressed and, at times, congenial host. Keenen Wilson portrays the ex-wife of Draggenstein, and wears a chic shroud and towering heels that hurt my feet just to look at. Max Robnett plays Smugsly, who may or may not be a butler but certainly acts like one. Amelia Fischer plays the Wailing Widow, a fragile ghost who emits sort of a high-pitched prolonged croak instead of actually wailing (which is both humorous and saves the actor's voice).

And the single-named Jeff, a member of the Skeleton Actors' Guild, plays Chuck, and resembles Craig Ferguson's pal Geoff. They're cousins, perhaps, and the poor guy was obviously nervous, because Vo stood behind him and prompted him on every line. Kidding again! Jeff is actually a puppet, albeit one too tall to carry around. Another puppet is Spliff, a roach (heh) also performed by Vo. The first time I saw Green and Vo onstage together was in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Avenue Q, a musical bursting with puppets, and I love that the Haus of Ruckus talents create and use puppets in their own ventures.

Spooky Pete's cast members have performed on nearly every stage and with almost every troupe in the Quad Cities. In this production, it's obvious why their milkshakes bring all the directors to the yard. Each one is a superlative performer. They are great comedians in that they don't overplay the lines for laughs; they just play it like they mean it, and let the comedy come through. In this way, they make their already-funny lines even funnier. I should mention that this coming weekend, Jo Vasquez will be playing the role of Stacy. Since I've seen her perform, I can confirm that she'll be delightful, as well.

Calvin Vo in Spooky Pete

The tech aspects are, as usual, very well done, boasting lightning flashes, clever music, terrified young people running up and down stairs … . Wait. Stairs? On that tiny stage? Yes! The set, designed by Becky Meissen, is ingenious, and augmented by the performers' acting skills, manages to evoke a sprawling maze of mysterious rooms. There are gable-like weathered planks over the proscenium, and on either side, bare flats crossed with wooden braces, as if we're seeing cavities behind walls. On these, depictions of trees and the moon are projected when the students are outside. At center, a few steps and sections of wall suggest hallways and staircases. The costume pieces are well done, too, particularly the wigs.

Green's and Vo's latest production references motifs and moments from films and TV shows here and there, but is still Haus of Ruckus' own special creation. Drag shows! Smart-assery! Lip-syncing! And then there's the dialogue. One smitten character, trying to play it cool, offhandedly blurts, "Do you wanna adopt twins?" Another, swearing revenge, hisses, "Not soon. Later. Or perhaps never. Because I'm. Very. Busy." It's difficult to write about Haus of Ruckus shows – you really have to see them for yourself. They are such inventive, unpredictable, delicious fun-in-a-blender concoctions that I feel I can't quite capture their spirit. It's hard to paint a portrait of a moving target. So, at a loss, I'll simply quote Spliff, who says, "I just know words. I don't know how to use 'em or anything."


Spooky Pete runs at the Mockingbird on Main (320 North Main Street, Davenport IA) through November 20, more information is available by visiting, and reservations are available by e-mailing

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