Living up to his promise to bring "exceptional" community theatre back to Malverne, Dave Coonan has selected a unique theme and location for his troupe's debut show.
Coonan, who is president of the recently revived Malverne Community Theatre, has always been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe and decided to take on the challenge of bringing his poetry into "the realm of theatre."
"I selected ones that are more personal to him, more autobiographical, and the ones I like the most ... and ones that are more narrative because those translate well to the stage," Coonan told Patch. "Those tend to be the darker ones."
To really bring the spooky stories to life though, Coonan decided to think outside the box, the black box theatre venues that is, when selecting a place to stage this piece. Instead, the Malverne Community Theatre (MTC) will perform its first show at Crossroads Farm at Grossmann's in Malverne inside a tent in the middle of a field under an eerie October night sky.
"You have two fairly new companies in town that could work together to succeed," Coonan said of the decision to partner with Crossroads Farm for MCT's debut production.
The performances will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27. Saturday's show will coincide with Crossroads' first "Halloween at the Farm" event, which will include scary story-telling, hayrides and farm tours, appropriate for all ages. Admission is free.
Coonan's small cast of five will be performing popular Poe works like "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee" through staging, dramatizations and one reading.
So why Poe?
"I like his darkness. The guy invented the genre," said Coonan who first read "The Raven" when he was 10 and chose the opening line of the poem for the show's title, "Once Upon a Midnight Dreary."
Aside from working in an outdoor setting, the material itself posed some challenges for Coonan and his cast.
"Just like Shakespeare or anything written before 1900, the language could be a barrier to true understanding and true appreciation," he says. "What I want to do here is to instill the understanding and meaning so much into the actors so they understand who they are and are able to bring the poems to life. This way people who aren't as familiar and don't have the appreciation that I do will feel the themes, the atmosphere ... and know where Poe was coming from and hopefully, feel some of his pain."
Browse the gallery above to see photos from a recent dress rehearsal.
Tickets for "Once Upon a Midnight Dreary" are $15 and will be available at the door, but you can purchase them in advance by clicking here. The show is geared for adults and children ages 13 and up. The farm is located at 480 Hempstead Ave., Malverne.