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Horror-themed comedy about Victorian-era conmen set for July 2-3 at Chapel Theatre in Milwaukie

Get ready for some spooky fun as physical-comedy duo A Little Bit Off presents the world premiere of "A Grave Mistake" on July 2-3 at the Chapel Theatre, 4107 S.E. Harrison St.PHOTO BY ELENA ESCOBEDO  - Amica Hunter and David Cantor, co-founders of A Little Bit Off, will seek audience participation as they stage 'A Grave Mistake' at Milwaukie's Chapel Theatre.

"A Grave Mistake" is a horror-themed comedy about two Victorian-era conmen, struggling to make ends meet. Their cons don't seem to be working out and they turn to robbing graves to try to pay the bills.

It turns out that dabbling with the occult and disturbing grave sites has the potential to unleash vengeful spirits, and the two are forced to reckon with the consequences of their actions.

Co-founded by Amica Hunter and David Cantor, the Portland-based entertainment company A Little Bit Off began as a theatrical collaboration between two acrobatic clowns dedicated to bringing wonder and laughter to the audiences of the world.

Hunter and Cantor met through the Clown Conservatory Program at The Circus Center in San Francisco, where their training included mime, ballet and acrobatics.

"We started working together in 2013 and decided to put together a show to take to street theater festivals in Europe," Cantor said.

The name of the company was the result of an extended brainstorming session, he said, adding that "it speaks to the nature of the clown; as hard as the clown tries, they are a little bit off the mark," he said.

"A Little Bit Off expresses that our work is charming, quirky, and also speaks to that truth about being human; that we are all strange and imperfect, in our own ways," Cantor added.

'A Grave Mistake'

"This show is an interesting experiment for us, because we let the audience influence the structure of the show," Cantor said.

At times the two actors ask the audience to make decisions for their characters, which steers them from scene to scene.

"While it absolutely isn't an improv show, it definitely shakes things up for us a little bit," Cantor added.

"We do our best to help people join in on the fun to the level that they are interested in and comfortable with," he said.

Hunter noted that she and Cantor being working on "A Grave Mistake" before the pandemic struck, so they had to put the production on hold for several years.

"Now, we're finally getting to finish it, and it has changed a lot from the original vision," she said.

Changes

She noted that Cantor has been practicing mentalism and stage magic for many years and has integrated some of those skills into the pair's comedy work together.

"Similarly, I run a side business called Funerals For Life where I throw fake funeral events for people's birthday parties, and so this project playfully explores some of those more macabre themes that I have always been drawn to," Hunter said.

After the world premiere in Milwaukie, the duo will tour the show in Canada over the summer and hope to bring it back to the Chapel Theatre around Halloween.

Cantor noted that the show would probably have a PG-13 rating, but there is some cartoonish comedy about dismembering a corpse that might be too mature for very young children.

"We have another performer, Summer Olsen, who is doing a short opening act for us. The whole evening should be about 90 minutes," he added.

Cantor said that he and Hunter have performed in the Chapel Theatre before and they love being close to the audience, while still performing on an actual stage.

"It really hits a nice balance between the feeling of a black box and the feeling of a proscenium stage," he said.

Touring

Hunter and Cantor have toured extensively over the last nine years and enjoyed performing in Edmonton, Alberta, which hosts the largest theater festival in North America. They have twice won the Best of Fest award at that festival with more than 100 shows.

"We are also incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand to perform. It was an incredible experience," he said.

"Mostly we just feel so grateful to be able to bring our art to people and feel the charge in the room, see the smiles on people's faces, and hear their laughter," Cantor added.

"We only get to perform our full-length shows a couple of times a year in the Portland area; it feels really good to let our community see the work that we create and take all over the globe," he said.

"In this time, where we are still in a global pandemic, but are well into the healing process as well, we think it's really important for people to be able to laugh together," Cantor said.

He added, "Our collective grief and trauma is something that society has not given us many tools to deal with, but we hope that our show helps people remember joy, even in the face of dark themes."

"A Grave Mistake"

When: 7:30 p.m. on July 2 and 3:30 p.m. on July 3

Where: The Chapel Theatre, 4107 S.E. Harrison St., Milwaukie

Tickets: $15; to purchase, visit eventbrite.com/e/a-grave-mistake-portland-tickets-343951467097

More: To learn more about A Little Bit Off, visit alittlebitoff.us


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