The Tell-Tale Part
Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
So, I have long loved Edgar Allan Poe. While other kids preferred the works of Shel Silverstein, I gleefully recited "Annabel Lee" before my elementary school English class. I successfully lobbied my librarian and principal to borrow "The Pit and the Pendulum" as a third grader.
While I have always enjoyed the thrill of attending a musical on Broadway, I am not one to leap at the opportunity to see stage productions set to music. Nonetheless, when I first heard that Signature Theatre was producing "Nevermore," the world premiere of a musical about Poe based on his poetry, I made a star in my calendar.
It's worth noting that "Nevermore" is the last production that Eric Schaeffer will direct at Signature Theatre's current location and the show couldn't be better for the venue. The dark industrial theater set the scene for the production from first glimpse. The exposed ceiling and black walls create a cold, stark ambiance, and the trees along the periphery curve inward to form a protective cocoon around the center of the stage. The show's five elaborately enrobed actresses wander the stage before the show looking disoriented and occasionally emitting bone-chilling cackles.
Daniel Cooney, who stars as Poe, is never off the stage once he makes his entrance, though the women drift in and out of the show as needed. Over the course of the 90-minute, intermissionless show, Cooney's character explores his relationships with his first love, Elmira; his wife, Virginia; and a whore, and he also tries to earn the love of his mother, who died when he was a young boy. Young Virginia's mother rounds out the cast as the disapproving living matron in Poe's life.
The score, which includes musical versions of "Annabel Lee," "El Dorado" and "Nevermore" among others, was captivating. The show's creators have invested so much time and thought into Poe's works, and it is fascinating to hear them musically interpreted. But the production is certainly not flawless: I struggled with holes at the very end and sometimes felt that the actress who portrayed the girlish Virginia fell into cliched characterizations. That said, it's a thoughtful and probing look at Poe's life with music that heightens the meaning of the poetry and writings. If you are one who hesitates to see musicals, go check out "only this, and nothing more."
Posted by: samtheoldaccordianman | February 1, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse
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