The cast of Playhouse on Haunted Hill.
The cast of Playhouse on Haunted Hill.

Isaac Vineburg performs in St. Dunstan’s production of Playhouse on Haunted Hill.

Isaac Vineburg performed in nine high school plays while growing up in Green Bay, Wis., but he counted the next 10 years as being away from the dramatic stage. College and the career opportunities that followed brought lots of responsibilities that interrupted his acting commitments.

Now moved to Michigan, Vineburg recently succumbed to a whim and auditioned for a part in an upcoming spooky comic production by St. Dunstan’s Theatre Guild of Cranbrook to celebrate Halloween, and he’s so glad he tried out and won a role.

Vineburg has been cast as Vincent Usher in the production Playhouse on Haunted Hill, which runs Oct. 14-22 in the company’s indoor pavilion. On the final night of the play, there will be a costume contest with prizes set for audience members who attend all dressed up in the mood of the holiday.

Kori Bielaniec as Ligeia and Isaac Vineburg as Vincent Usher in Playhouse on Haunted Hill
Kori Bielaniec as Ligeia and Isaac Vineburg as Vincent Usher in Playhouse on Haunted Hill

“The contest is very cool,” said Vineburg of Farmington Hills, who is enthusiastic about St. Dunstan’s plans. “This play is based on an old Vincent Price film, House on Haunted Hill.
“It’s based on a neat old horror film I feel like people today would think is really cliché movie stuff, but it became cliché stuff because Vincent Price did all these [stories] and did them first.

“Although the play is not expressly about Halloween, there are some Halloween themes, along with Edgar Allan Poe poetry. It’s about a haunted playhouse so the characters spend a night there trying to talk to the ghosts and discover clues to mysterious disappearances that take place.”

Vineburg’s character is a billionaire inviting a group to a house party for his wife. That’s how the story gets started and runs 90 minutes without intermission.

The play is written and directed by Jake Zinke of West Bloomfield, who has worked with the company since 2011 and written other plays. Meg Berger of Huntington Woods is co-director. Cast members include Kori Bielaniec of Westland as Ligeia, Bill Carr of Southfield as the Caretaker and Rocky Dsouza of Troy as Truman Caboddy.

“I’ve always loved theater, but in college, I didn’t have the opportunity to do it,” said Vineburg, 27, the son of a rabbi, Sidney Vineburg, whose post-retirement years have involved serving as a remote educator for Grand Canyon University.

While Vineburg could not make time for theater while attending college, he did give his performance interests an outlet by competing for ComedySportz, an improv organization in nearly 30 cities across the United States. In each audience session, two comic teams compete for laughs and votes as decided by an audience.

Between the times Vineburg worked on two degrees, he lived with his parents, who had moved to Oak Park to be close to another son’s family. The younger Vineburg earned a bachelor’s degree in digital media and a master’s degree in digital communication strategies at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

After college, Vineburg decided to join the Michigan-located relatives. His first job was at the Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills, where he worked on communications and digital advertising. He currently is employed by the University of Michigan School of Public Health, where he specializes in marketing and advertising.

Also while living in Michigan, Vineburg met his wife, the former Lexie Sittsamer. She teaches at Adat Shalom Synagogue, where the couple participate in various religious activities. They also are active with other local Jewish groups, including The Well.

“We’re hoping to go with The Well on a trip to Germany,” Vicksburg said. “Last year, I was on a film festival committee for NEXTGen.”

Back with theater, Vineburg expresses an emotional connection.

“I really love sharing an emotion with someone else and find theater to be a cathartic experience,” he said. “My wife and I recently went to a performance of Rent at Wayne State University, and I felt it was relatable. I think it’s powerful how theater can tell us a lot about ourselves. It can help us heal and laugh and mourn.”

Playhouse on Haunted Hill runs at 8 p.m. (except for Sunday, Oct. 16, performance at 2 p.m.) Oct. 14, 15, 20,21, 22 at St. Dunstan’s Playhouse, 400 Lone Pine Road, between Woodward and Lahser, Bloomfield Hills. $18-$20. 1-844 -DUNSTAN.

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