Performance » Theater

Poetic License

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“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream,” wrote Edgar Allan Poe, comparing reality to fantasy. For theater-goers, particularly fans of the famous poet of macabre material, the dark dance between fact and fiction comes to life this Saturday with the grand opening of Cabaret Poe at Theatre on the Square.

Q Artistry, the group that created Cabaret Poe back in 2009, is co-producing the musical with TOTS and will perform it throughout this month at the popular Mass Ave theater.

“Our home has been Irvington for the past seven years,” says Ben Asaykwee, Q Artistry’s artistic executive director. “To switch to Mass Ave is not only a change in vibe, but also what surrounds us.” The Chicago transplant and Cabaret Poe creator and composer was referring to the group's new digs at TOTS, in the heart of the arts and theater district of downtown Indy.

“This is our first real partnership as far as a collaboration of a show goes,” says Lori Raffel, director of development at TOTS.

Asaykwee looks forward to putting the show together on the Christel DeHaan Main Stage, because he says the setting is more conducive to the intended theatrical production. Q Artistry's previous home in the Historic Irvington Lodge posed "tricky" production challenges with set design and lighting in what was essentially a “big hallway.”

“We’re able to do things a lot more theatrically,” Asaykwee says, noting that now the piece can be as it’s meant to be -- a full-on stage production.

Cabaret Poe followers hoping to enjoy the same songs, smart humor and haunting performances as in its previous productions can rest assured that even though the venue has changed, the cast and material will remain -- but with more room to do their thing.

The dark and delightfully entertaining cast (Jaddy Ciucci, Ben Asaykwee and Lauren Briggeman) of Cabaret Poe blends literature and laughter with song at Theatre on the Square. - COURTESY THEATRE ON THE SQUARE
  • Courtesy Theatre on the Square
  • The dark and delightfully entertaining cast (Jaddy Ciucci, Ben Asaykwee and Lauren Briggeman) of Cabaret Poe blends literature and laughter with song at Theatre on the Square.

“It’s still the amazing talented people doing the show,” Raffel says. “The words and music will still be there, but the production value will be bigger.”

Q Artistry weaves literature with laughter, creatively putting Poe's stories and poems to music. The show re-imagines the mystery, murder and mournful insanity of some of the author's most famous works.

Asaykwee says previous audiences seemed to better understand Poe's writing after seeing it on stage. The Raven is one of the set pieces of the show, along with The Fall of the House Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat, and The Masque of Red Death.

But if you snoozed through Lit 101, fear not. You needn't be versed in the melancholy prose of this literary master to comprehend the musical's entertainment value.

“If you know much about Poe, it can add to the show,” Raffel says. “But it’s just a really fun, scary, depressing but funny Halloween show.”

Cabaret Poe opens this Saturday, Oct. 3rd at 8 p.m. and will run through Oct. 31st at TOTS, 627 Massachusetts Ave. For tickets and times, visit www.tots.org.

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