Monday, July 31, 2017

reviews - NEVERMORE: THE IMAGINARY LIFE AND MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF EDGAR ALLAN POE - Greasepaint Youth Theatre

Jacob Shore, Bennet Wood, Johnna Watson, and Taylor Penn
photo by Laura Durant
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through August 5th.

"...Edgar Allan Poe had an incredibly tortured short life...While Poe's prose is well known, much about him is unknown, including the exact cause of his death. Jonathan Christenson's musical Nevermore, the Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe combines fact with fiction to fill in some of the ambiguous parts of his life in an intriguing and interesting musical. It focuses mainly on Poe's troubled childhood and the influences his life experiences had on the macabre, perverse, and incredibly memorable literary characters and tales he created. Greasepaint Youth Theatre presents the local premiere, with a superb cast composed of high school and college aged kids who throw themselves into the material with sheer abandonment. The end result is intriguing, provoking, and highly entertaining....Atmospherically spooky and haunting, though never truly terrifying or scary, Nevermore is weird and mesmerizing, and incredibly operatic in nature. Christenson's script includes intricate rhymes in the dialogue and lyrics, much in the style of Poe's works, with a score consisting of dreamy, trance-like music. ...However, as entertaining as the piece is, the ending seems a bit drawn out and doesn't quite wrap up everything that came before in a truly satisfying way. With a superb cast, stunning creative elements, and an assured use of the entire Greasepaint stage, Peter Bish is making an auspicious directorial debut. As there is great depth to the story and almost the entire show is sung, I have to imagine this isn't an easy piece to direct, but based on the terrific opening night performance, Bish manages to make it seem like he's been directing for years. Christenson's script paints the famous author as agonized, mournful and melancholy, and Bennet Wood beautifully portrays Poe with a poignant sense of purity and grace as well as a deep, tormented sadness that immediately creates an immensely sympathetic character. ...There isn't a weak member in the cast. Paige Corbin is excellent in several parts, including the woman who seeks to adopt Poe, his younger sister, and his child bride. As the girl whom Poe becomes enamored with, Johnna Watson creates a beautiful portrait of strength, mystery, and a hint of pained regret. Grant Roberts excels as Poe's estranged surrogate father, while Savannah Thompson does well as Poe's self-absorbed mother. Jacob Shore, Mark Munoz, and Taylor Penn serve as the main narrators. All three have exceptional singing voices that shine and instill a deep sense of theatricality to the poetic cadence and tone of the sung recitative. ..The production's design elements are highly stylized in a stunning combination of Goth and steampunk elements and the visual style of a Tim Burton film. ...As dramatized in Nevermore, Poe's life proves to be as fascinating as the many memorable characters and stories he wrote. High on style and full of substance, the only downside to the musical is a lack of a truly big message to pull everything together at the end. Still, with an excellent cast, imaginative creative elements, and sure-footed direction, Greasepaint's production is highly effective, a deep, dark, somewhat humorous and fairly satisfying presentation of this new musical. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...Jonathan Christenson's ingenious musical...is the perfect opiate for those who thrill over the edgy, the weird, and even the macabre.... a gold mine of talented teens, led by Bennett Wood's mesmerizing performance as Poe, is delivering an exhilarating and riveting presentation of this theatrical gem....
In every respect, from April Rozier's brilliant choreography and Curtis Moeller's vivid musical direction to the ominous tones of Chase Budden, Erick Beeck, and Peter Bish's set design, the production benefits from the keen and discerning eye of its director, Peter Bish. For a work of such intricacy, that this is Bish's directorial debut is a remarkable feat worthy of special mention.
..an exceptional must-see show. " - Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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