Tessa Betts (L), Kristina Lakey, and Ahlissa Vaubel as Mary, Winifred, and Sarah Sanderson respectively during a Hocus Pocus shadowcast. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Lakey) A bit of magic
Tessa Betts (L), Kristina Lakey, and Ahlissa Vaubel as Mary, Winifred, and Sarah Sanderson respectively during a Hocus Pocus shadowcast. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Lakey)

Michigander Kristina Lakey is creatively thriving during COVID-19.

FLINT, MI — From painting and photography to blending up nail polish, many Michiganders are taking time during this pandemic to boost their creative hustles.

 Kristina Lakey, a Flint-based performance artist and owner of The Goblin King Players, saw her creative career unexpectedly take center stage during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She couldn’t be more ready for her full-time debut. 

Formerly an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, Lakey said her creative work has flourished during the past few years in some surprising ways, but 2020 presented an unprecedented opportunity to go all the way as an artist. 

“Working as an ASL interpreter became a challenge,” Lakey said. “The stresses of that job couldn’t compare to how wonderful it felt working for myself creatively … I had wanted to leave the profession for some time, as being a full-time creative has always been my actual goal. 

“When the pandemic hit, I lost my job interpreting in schools and theatre and knew that if I was ever going to make the move there might not be a better time than 2020. That felt scary, of course, but ‘On the wire is life. The rest is waiting.’”

Kristina Lakey

The Life of a Full-Time Creative: What Does It Look Like? 

Day to day, Lakey said, she auditions virtually for voiceover work and answers gig requests for her production company, NightShade Productions. Also, she’s planning The Goblin King Players’ 2021 season, which has her directing and producing two shows and one fundraiser — and on top of that, Lakey’s husband, Dan Gerics, fronts the David Bowie cover band Serious Moonlight. Together, she said, they’ve been writing grants for show proposals, traveling safely for in-person Bowie appearances, and growing his following on social media. 

SEE ALSO: Cult, Comedy, Costumes: How One Flint Couple Cures Quarantine Blues With Living Room Concerts

“We’ve canceled all of our events and shows through 2020 and are now only booking private or small events where we can be sure that all safety measures will be followed,” Lakey said. “But for 2021, The Goblin King Players will have a Goonies shadowcast on May 14 and 15. In this format, the film plays on a movie screen and we act it out in front with screen-accurate props, costumes, and set pieces. It’s a unique way of bringing beloved films to life.” 

Lakey told The ’Gander that she is especially excited by projects like this one, where audience members can make a strong emotional connection. 

“I am most inspired by emotions and creating art that will get a specific emotional response from the audience,” she said. “For example, in my work with The Goblin King Players I am most interested in connecting audience members with their childhoods and those special warm feelings we got watching films that we loved growing up. I think that’s really because I believe if we could tap into more of those feelings — more happiness, warmth, hope — that the world would be better. We can carry those emotions to the world at large, but first we have to remember them ourselves.” 

Lakey’s husband, Dan Gerics, appearing in full costume as David Bowie circa 1973. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Lakey)

Innovating From Home

Lakey never stopped aiming to deliver more happiness, warmth, and hope to audiences via the stage, even when The Goblin King Players’ scheduled shadowcast performances of The Lost Boys (with an original Lost Boys cast member) were canceled last May. After that blow, Lakey said, she and her team turned their eyes toward innovation. 

“I’ve been trying to think in terms of innovation because I knew that we couldn’t create as we were used to,” she said. “This led us to do a series of movie-themed social distance videos. We’d all chat about who would take which character, clever ways to film individually so that the final product could be edited together to appear as if we might be together. This drew a new audience to our social media, but it also helped us to feel like we were moving forward.

“In addition to that, I, like many others, found TikTok during the earlier months of quarantine. It’s been a great outlet for creativity that has allowed me to connect with all sorts of different people. My crew and I are also preparing for 2021 because it isn’t every year you get so much downtime to plan what your next move will be.” 

Lakey, center, appears with Tessa Betts (L) and Ahlissa Vaubel (R) as The Sanderson Sisters behind the scenes during a Hocus Pocus shadowcast. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Lakey)

The Goblin King Players’ Next Moves

In addition to The Goonies shadowcast scheduled for May 2021, The Goblin King Players will host their first big fundraiser on June 25-26, 2021 at The Labyrinth Masquerade. 

“This is the 35th anniversary of the film Labyrinth, and we are hosting a formal masquerade — just as if you are stepping inside the masquerade scene from the film,” Lakey said. “Serious Moonlight will play live, we will have professional photos, a screening of the film, and a sing-a-long. Tickets for that are available now at www.redfordtheatre.com.” 

In October 2021, you can look forward to The Goblin King Players’ Beetlejuice shadowcast at the historic Redford Theatre, whose classic cartoon livestreams The ’Gander spotlighted over the summer.

But if you can’t wait ‘til next Halloween to catch Lakey and her crew, NightShade Productions is now booking Halloween caroling for this fall. 

“Think classic Dickensian Christmas caroling but with ghostly figures singing classic Halloween songs,” Lakey said. 

Interested in booking The Goblin King Players? Email thegoblinkingplayers@gmail.com. Their full season is available at www.goblinkingplayers.com

If you’re interested in variety-style entertainment, drag performers, impersonators, actors, etc., their profile can be found at www.gigsalad.com/nightshade_productions

And if you’d like to book Serious Moonlight, the David Bowie cover band — or if you have any other questions — Kristina Lakey invites interested parties to email her at kristinalakey@gmail.com