With stories about talking ravens, deadly plagues and being buried alive, the works of 19th-century writer Edgar Allan Poe blend well into the atmosphere of the Halloween season. Poe’s dark and mysterious world will be brought to life this weekend at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College’s Science Auditorium as the Hardin County Playhouse premieres its production of “A Night With Edgar Allan Poe.”
A stage adaptation of five different Poe short stories and poems, the play was written by director Michael Radford.
Radford, who has worked with HCP for several years, said the production is about a year in the making. He said though the production is made up of five different stories, they each are tied together by portraying aspects of Poe’s life.
“I wanted to present them in a live version while maintaining the authentic structure and theme,” Radford said. “I approached the process with five of his pieces that I felt lent themselves well to stage adaptation and offered a variety.”
Poe stories and poems featured in the production include “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Masque of the Red Death” and “The Bells.”
The production includes a cast of 12, ranging from experienced actors to first-time performers, and auditions began in August. The cast encompasses an age range of 70 years, according to Radford.
Radford said bringing Poe’s stories to life has been a collaborative process with the cast.
“The process has been an invigorating experience as actors lent their own ideas to their particular character,” he said. “Almost all actors have numerous parts but they have welcomed all challenges with an open mind.”
Jake Richardson, who plays Poe and Montressor from “The Cask of Amontillado,” said he has been a fan of Poe’s work since high school. He said his involvement in “A Night With Edgar Allan Poe” has deepened his appreciation of the source material.
“When you’re in high school and reading them in a textbook, they’re just words,” he said. “When you have lights, sets and maybe most importantly, voices, so much is made clearer and the eerie nature of the tales becomes so much more prevalent.”
A similar production, entitled “An Evening With Poe” is held each year by the Frazier History Museum in Louisville. Richardson said he hopes the HCP show also can become an annual way of celebrating Poe’s work and kicking off Halloween festivities in the community.
“This is the first thing of its kind here in Elizabethtown and if it goes well, we could make it a yearly occurrence,” he said. “So I hope that audiences can get their spooky fix with us.”
Performances take place at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18 and 19. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by calling 270-351-0577.