The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

Taliah Carmona, class of 24
My Breakthrough: Life as a Hard of Hearing Student
Taliah Carmona, Guest Writer • December 5, 2023

As the end of my senior year approaches, I’ve reflected on my last four years, which have been nothing but remarkable. I found myself finally...

Jones at a game versus SUNY Fredonia
From First Baskets to Lasting Legacies: My Journey to Le Moyne's Historic D1 Debut
Darrick Jones, Guest Writer • December 5, 2023

The Ted Grant Court at Le Moyne College has become my new proving ground, where the squeak of sneakers and the roar of the crowd serve as the...

A full commuter parking lot on campus, Lot C and CC
Alleviating the Parking Headache at Le Moyne
Corinne Becker, News & Features Editor • December 5, 2023

To say parking is a pain at Le Moyne is an understatement; between closed lots, tickets on windshields, and unauthorized vehicles taking up spots,...

Social Media and Self-Esteem: How to Manage Social Media Use
Mai Al Janabi, Staff Writer • December 1, 2023

Social media usage is often linked to self-esteem issues and mental health concerns, but given the advent of social networking sites, avoiding...

The Launch of the New Gender, Women, and Sexuality Center
Danny Mondelli, Assistant Editor in Chief • December 1, 2023

On October 18th, Le Moyne unveiled its new Gender, Women, and Sexuality Center in Reilly Hall. The event was organized by Dr. Farha Ternikar,...

Edgar in the Red Room: The Making of a Macabre Musical

Edgar in the Red Room: The Making of a Macabre Musical

With Halloween fast approaching and the air growing crisp, it appears that spooky season is upon us — and with it, a new musical is in the works at the W. Carroll Coyne Performing Arts Center! 

With music from the discography of British punk cabaret band The Tiger Lillies, and chunks of Poe’s short stories and poems integrated throughout, Edgar in the Red Room is a macabre musical centering around the life, death, and works of famed American author and poet Edgar Allan Poe, written by Le Moyne’s Director of Theatre Matt Chiorini. 

But how did such an outlandish show come into existence?

Chorini explained that he had always been interested in writing a play using Poe’s short story Fall of the House of Usher, but never quite knew how to go about it. Chiorini described the imagination of Poe as being a “fertile world,” and embracing this idea, he began frankensteining a script based on Usher and some of Poe’s other famous works, the connecting thread throughout being their tonal and thematic similarities. 

Aiming to create a piece in which Poe and his works converged, Edgar in the Red Room explores Poe’s mysterious death as he becomes lost amidst the overlapping stories and their themes, trapped within a nightmare of his own creation. “It’s the story Poe could have written, but didn’t,” Chiorini said. 

The play certainly covers some strange subject matter, as is expected with the writing of Poe, delving deep into the troubled mind of the 19th-century author. What is almost more odd than the grotesque and arabesque contents of the show, is the choice to make it a musical. 

When asked about this decision, Chiorini explained that while Edgar in the Red Room is certainly dark, it is not horror. He described it as macabre, “which is like horror, but with a wink and a smirk.” Musicals bend reality in such a way that it allows the audience to suspend their disbelief, and like the macabre, it means that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously all the time. Chiroini also emphasized his belief that the tone of a musical fit well with Poe’s works, because they often had some layer of wit to them, leaving room for jokes and comedy despite the subject matter.

Any good musical has choreography, of course, and so in collaboration with dance instructor Ruth Arena, students from the dance minor have been cast in the show. The dancers and their choreography add yet another layer to the performance, bringing to life the haunted nature of the setting and allowing for dynamic, visual storytelling to accompany the vivid text of the script.

Creating such an odd show presented many challenges, the main one being figuring out how to layer the different stories throughout, a process that involved a lot of trial and error, and a lot of drafts. Since production began in September, the script has been through multiple iterations. Chiorini shared that seeing that story physically play out prompted changes, that some things work out differently onstage than in one’s head. The rehearsal process has seen many rewrites, some of which have been made by the actors themselves. 

“All the students involved are stepping way out of their comfort zones and doing something extraordinary,” Chiorini said. He described the collaborative process as one that is positive and fruitful and that allows everyone involved the freedom to explore and experiment. This includes both the actors onstage and also those behind the scenes, two of whom are designing for a Boot and Buskin production for the first time: scenic designer Professor Linsday Voorhees and costume designer Kylee Galarneau, who is a senior. 

The cast and crew have been at work for six grueling weeks, learning lines of dense monologue lifted directly from Poe’s works, figuring out how to move the rolling set pieces of a haunted mansion, and transforming themselves into writers, literary characters, and ravens alike. “It really feels like we’re on the verge of creating something extraordinary—” Chiorini said, “unlike anything done at Le Moyne, or in theater!” 

The show opens this Friday and runs for two weekends. Performances are Oct. 27-28th and Nov. 2-4 at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Nov. 4th. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the box office in the PAC or online.

So, but one question remains: will you venture with Mr. Poe into the Red Room, and dare to face your doom?

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