On Stage

Edgar Allan

The mystery and the mania


What: Edgar Allan

When: 7 pm Fri., Sep. 20

Where: Firehouse Arts and Events Center, 1314 Harris Ave.

Cost: $15

Info: http://www.firehouseperformingarts.com

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

As cofounders of the Twin Cities Horror Festival, actors and musicians Katie Hartman and Nick Ryan are familiar with things that go bump in the night.

Performing as the Coldharts, the Minnesota-based duo furthers their love for the macabre by bringing original works inspired by the American Gothic to audiences far and wide. In 2013, they debuted Edgar Allan at the homegrown festival, bringing an unexpected spin to the life of enigmatic writer, poet and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe.

The two-person musical starring Hartman as the titular character follows a pre-adolescent Poe in his first year at Manor House School. He’s looking to gain academic excellency over the rest of the students, but when another boy named Edgar Allan (played by Ryan) arrives, his plans go horribly awry.

Ryan says that in the course of their research about the troubled writer, they came across the short story William Wilson, a tale set in the English boarding school Poe attended as a child. The story became the spine of their plot, and they enlarged and added autobiographical details already present in the piece to construct the narrative.

The result is a comedic riff about Poe’s obsessions, mania and inherent insanity that has been described as being darkly funny and dangerous, as well as being a “triumph of storytelling.”

“We often hear from people asking about Poe and his relationship with childhood trauma and mental illness, for which we and historians don’t have a definitive answer, only our own interpretation of the events that occurred in his early childhood,” Hartman says when asked how audiences react to the show. ” We’re always happy when people express their desire to read more Poe after seeing Edgar Allan.”

During the course of the play, songs such as “Remarkable,” “Why is the Night So Dark?,” “Everything Fun is a Little Bit Dangerous,” “The Shadow,” and “Everything Cruel” touch on everything from Poe’s ego to his deep insecurities to impulse control (or a lack thereof) and the thrill of doing things you know you shouldn’t.

“With all of the songs, we were trying to delve into the seeds of Poe’s work, and show the beginnings of these ideas that he would pursue in his writings later in life,” Hartman says.

When arts patrons depart after the Fri., Sept. 20 showing of Edgar Allan at Bellingham’s Firehouse Arts and Events Center, they may be wondering if the two characters with the same name are meant to show the duality of human nature, or if the duplicate monikers are simply a way to move the story forward.

“We get this question a lot,” Ryan says. “Is there another Edgar Allan, or is it all in his head? I don’t think anyone is satisfied with the answer: We wrote the play one way, and we perform it the other. We think one of the reasons the work is compelling is because we never spell it out for the audience. People are free to interpret as they will.”

More On Stage...
A picture-perfect party

Last week, after perusing hundreds of photos of past Sh’Bang! events, I was left with a few conclusions about the late-summer gathering that, early every September, fills the Lookout Arts Quarry near Alger with all manner of entertainment and enticements.

First off,  I observed that those…

more »
An Iliad
Summer Rep’s swan song

All good things must come to an end, and so it is with the Sylvia Center’s epic Summer Rep season, which kicked off its five-play run of ancient Greek plays with Briseis June 20 and ends this weekend with free outdoor performances of An Iliad at Maritime Heritage Park.

When actor and…

more »
Standup Roundup
The laughter list

The best comedians make telling jokes in front of an audience look easy, but anybody who’s ever witnessed one of their friends nervously testing out their routine in front of a mirror in their bathroom (been there, done that) knows full well it can be an arduous path to the punchline.…

more »
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Anything Goes Arts and Crafts

10:30am|Sumas Library

Nuclear Power and Weapons

6:30pm|Lynden Library

'Hamster Church with Brad Lockhart

6:30pm|Old Parish Hall


7:00pm|Alternative Library


9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Grizzly Boy

3:00pm|Point Roberts Library

Cook It and Book It

3:30pm|Lynden Library

Community Conversations Book Club

5:00pm|Village Books

Artist Workshop

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery

Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Wednesday Farmers Market

2:00pm|Barkley Village Green

Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market

3:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Brewers Cruise

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Disruptive Play

7:00pm|Village Books

Native Plant Seed Propagation Basics

7:00pm|Sustainable Living Center

Brad Shigeta Quintet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts,

see our complete calendar »