The classic work of Edgar Allan Poe is making its way to San Antonio this April. The Texas Light Opera, in association with Aria Productions, is bringing the musical Nevermore to the Roxie Theatre, 7460 Callaghan Rd. The San Antonio production will be the show’s official Texas premiere.
Actor Joseph Urick has spent years trying to produce the show in Texas. Originally he had planned to do so as part of his graduate capstone project at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
“I’ve always had a fondness for Poe’s work,” he told the Rivard Report, “and the idea of a Poe musical struck me as intriguing. I fell in love with the music and insisted that it be my capstone, but the professors refused.
“They were right in the long run, as I feel now I have the experience and the wherewithal to produce this piece, where then I did not. I wanted to make something different that people aren’t used to seeing.”
The musical has been described as “a dark and mysterious journey into the life of Edgar Allan Poe.” Written by Grace Barnes and accompanied by the hauntingly beautiful melodies of Matt Conner, Nevermore “breathes new life into Poe’s work and explores a twisted true-life tale that is as bizarre as his classic stories of the macabre.”
Although the show is about Poe, the musical’s core strength lies in the complex supporting cast of women. From Poe’s mother to the loves of his life, the women of Nevermore are responsible for the show’s emotional heartbeat.
“The musical is a memory piece, and we see the world, and the women who influenced it, all from his point of view,” Urick said.
Urick began the rehearsal process as actor, producer, and director. He handed over directing duties to actress and director of Broadway Nights at the Woodlawn Theatre Rebecca Trinidad, who was cast in Nevermore while she was recovering from breast cancer.
“I was originally cast as [Edgar’s] mother in the show, but because of the mastectomy and reconstruction surgery I was unable to physically fulfill the role,” she said. “I finished chemo at the end of December, then had the mastectomy/reconstruction surgery three weeks ago, so directing has given me a wonderful distraction from recovery and motivation to keep moving.”
Trinidad was excited to take on the role of director.
“I hope audiences walk away with a new or renewed interest in Poe and his work,” she said. “The women in the work are real and imagined. Edgar depends on each woman for something different and yet every woman provides him the same thing. They are all on a loop that plays in his head.”
For cast member Morgan Clyde, the biggest draw about the show was the score.
“The music is absolutely gorgeous, and provides a considerable challenge to the performers,” she said.
To Clyde, playing the role of the prostitute that torments Edgar, “obviously has a weighty sexual element. But the more I explore her, the more I feel that it’s not about as sex as much as power.
“I don’t know that I would call the women of Nevermore the ‘stars,’” she continued, “but they’re definitely the showrunners. Everything Edgar does is a reaction to them.”
Erin Polewski plays one of Edgar’s loves, Elmira.
“I think each woman influences him in a different way – they support, seduce, encourage, tease, inspire, demand, hurt, and they leave,” she said. “They each love him the best way they are able, whether or not it’s good enough for him.
“Elmira is a challenge in that she is so desperate to be with Edgar, but other people get in her way – her father, her first husband, the other women, even Edgar won’t let himself get close enough to her. She is only a memory in this play, and she’s trying so hard to not be forgotten.”
Trinidad’s direction focuses specifically on the roles the women play in the poet’s life.
“One gives him unwavering love, one provides sexual stimulation, one gives naïveté and youth while her mother provides structure and finally his mother gives him the love that, because she died when he was still a baby, he must imagine,” she said. “The play is more about the women and their frustrations with Edgar’s mind than about Edgar himself.”
Urick knew putting on a show about Edgar Allan Poe would be a worthy challenge.
“Playing Edgar Allan Poe is a daunting task, not only because of his being a historical figure, but [also because] this play is not a biography,” he said. “So, to say that some of the instances and relationships are skewed is an understatement, and it may set off some Poe purists, yet it’s still a very endearing story to tell.”
“Between Poe’s artistic visions, his alcohol-infused rampages, and his brilliant poetry, it is enough for an actor to tackle for a year, let alone a few weeks of rehearsal,” Urick continued.
“People have a misconception about Poe as being this pop-culture icon, and while he has become so now, he was a struggling artist in a day and age in America when it was impossible to earn a living as only a writer.
“This is the story that we are going to share.”
Nevermore runs April 6-15 at the Roxie Theatre at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased for $18-25 at roxietheatrecompany.com or at the door at 7460 Callaghan Rd., Suite 333.