Wednesday, October 7

Theater Review: TOTS: Cabaret Poe

There are productions that catch my eye and are put in a mental "need to review" list. Unfortunately, time and scheduling does not allow attending every performance in the Indianapolis-metro area.

For the past several years (seven, to be exact), one show has piqued my interest and, yet, been that one I could never catch due to being out of town or otherwise committed ~ kind of my own Eleanor.

That production is Cabaret Poe. As a life-long fan of the works of Edgar Allan Poe the title of the show alone caught my attention. I have mulled over it, building it up in my mind as to how great it would be, which is not a good thing to do, but I am human. Finally, I was able to watch it this past weekend at TOTS, 627 Massachusetts Ave., to decide if it was all I had imagined it could be.

And it was. Even more so, if possible.

From the beginning to the finale, the show's performers were polished, talented and oozing with the correct amount of Gothic charm so necessary in a production of this type.

Ben Asaykwee, the creative genius behind the production, portrays Zoilus the leader of the Poe popgoth group. Julie Lyn Barber and Lauren Briggeman round out the ebony-attired trio as Berenice and Morella. (The roles of Berenice and Morella are alternately played by Jaddy Ciucci and Renae Stone, depending on the performance date.) Asaykwee and Rebekah Taylor (Shadow) perform on all dates.

Based on works by Poe with music written by Asaykwee, the musical's performers act and sing the author's most famous works and lesser known ones as well. People are hung, trapped behind walls and mourned over (or laughed at).
Tweaking the norm, The Raven is performed by a female, and the fourth wall is broken with numerous direct-to-the-audience comments, which keeps the show from being morose and bogged down.
The fast-paced Gothic-Pop musical will delight fans of Poe, musicals, Burton-esque shows and Rocky Horror Picture Show equally. It definitely lends itself to a cult-like growing fan base, which may result in a midnight showing with all attending dressed in death garb and tossing bird seed someday. Until then, you can catch it at TOTS through October 31.

Bottom Line: Beg, borrow ~ steal from your kid's Christmas account if necessary ~ but do what you must to get the money and go see Cabaret Poe.

Images provided by TOTS

Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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