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The Morning Hour
Shevaun Kastl, left, will use the Al. Ringling Theatre to tell the story of a 1950s housewife dreaming of a life as a professional cellist.

Shevaun Kastl feels pretty comfortable in the theater.

She grew up there.

But five years ago, after an injury prompted her to leave the stage, the New Jersey native and daughter of Broadway performers packed her bags and headed for Hollywood.

Kastl began a career writing and starring in short films, and now owns her own production company, Mad About Pictures, which seeks to tell short-yet-powerful, message-driven stories.

Kastl's latest piece brings her right back to where she started, and will use one of Baraboo's most treasured landmarks, the historic Al. Ringling Theatre, to tell the story of a 1950s housewife contemplating what might have been.

"The Mourning Hour," a period piece written by Kastl, which recently won the Slugline Short Screenplay Competition, will be shot in February in Baraboo and several other Wisconsin locations, including Arlington and Madison. It's slated to include local actors.

"What we're hoping to achieve is a piece of film that looks and feels like a piece of poetry," Kastl said Sunday as her film crew explored the nooks and crannies of the 1915 theater, plotting camera angles for scenes that will be shot over a four-day period starting Feb. 1.

The film will bring viewers inside the mind of a devoted mother and wife who just learned of her husband's death.

The shock sends her into an Alice-in-Wonderland-like dream state in which she contemplates life as a cellist in a symphony orchestra, a path she might have taken had she not married and started a family.

Kastl said the film will explore a person's natural tendency to selfishly dream of a life without a loved one for whom they have sacrificed, as well as the hope of second chances.

"I think hope is the core of what sustains us," said Kastl, adding that the story was inspired by her mother, who has cared for her dependent husband, Kastl's father.

The five-member crew for "The Mourning Hour" will be working on a tight budget, and Kastl said they are still in need of air mileage, lodging and catering for their stay in Baraboo, which will last six days. They are also asking local theater groups to donate 1950s-era wardrobes and props.