'Ethereal and spooky': Penticton community theatre putting on Edgar Allan Poe musical

'Ethereal and spooky' show

Casey Richardson

Described as ethereal, spooky and perfect for October, a Penticton-based community theatre will be putting on a production of Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe starting next week.

The musical was written, composed, and directed by Jonathan Christenson, following the life of Poe and the internal and external struggles he faced, which are depicted as inspiring his writings.

Director and co-founder of Cat's Paw Productions Cain Critchlow said the show is a hard one to describe.

“It's very fun and silly, while at the same time as being dreadfully serious,” they said. “It's got an amazing cast of local talent. And a lovely five-piece live band behind us.”

Rehearsals started at the end of May and the entire production team has been putting in an “absolutely gargantuan amount of effort,” according to Critchlow.

“It's been a labour of love,” they added.

Anne Ramey, the costume director for the show, said she’s been obsessed with this musical since 2015.

“Designing costumes for the show has been really, really difficult because it's layered. Everybody has a character in the show who then plays other characters in the show. And so we see reoccurring actors needing to build their costumes on top of each other to tell the story,” she said.

“[It’s] a really small group of people, but there's around 45 characters. So it's been a really creative challenge.”

Ramey took inspiration from Tim Burton, the movie Coraline and the video game, Alice Madness Returns, when building the cast’s costumes, all in a monochrome palette.

“I think people even if they don't know Edgar Allan Poe are going to love the show for the music,” she added.

“It's a story of like a tumultuous fellow who had a very rough life and still managed to create art and beauty that has lasted through the ages,” Critchlow added.

According to the official Nevermore show site, the musical was originally produced by Catalyst Theatre in Edmonton, Alta. in 2009 to commemorate the bicentennial of Poe’s birth (January 19, 1809).

Nevermore toured extensively, with performances throughout Canada and in London at the Barbican Center. After its first New York appearance in 2010, Nevermore was expanded and revised, with several new songs added and structural changes made to the original script.

“I think a lot of people will really relate to Edgar and trying to pursue something artistic, and the struggle that it is to be creative when everybody says 'No, you have to get a real job. You're not being a productive member of society,' and still choosing to pursue your dreams,” Ramey said.

“For a lot of us, that stays as a hobby. Edgar Allan Poe, clearly made it successful…Even though he had a really dark life, it's still a really uplifting narrative to take away that you can succeed and make beautiful things.”

Nevermore opens on Oct. 4 at the Tempest Theatre as a dress rehearsal for students only, followed by their full opening night on Oct. 5. Evening shows continue for Oct. 6,7,12,13, and 14. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.

Matinee Shows will be held on Oct. 7 and 14. Doors open at 1 p.m., with the show at 1:30 p.m.

For more information and tickets, click here.

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