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JEFFREY COMBS: THE POE FOREVERMORE INTERVIEW

THE JEFFREY COMBS INTERVIEW

By Mark Redfield

PART ONE of two

Jeffrey Combs as Edgar Allan Poe
Jeffrey Combs is Edgar Allan Poe in the play NEVERMORE. Photo by Ward Boult

During production week of the Boston premiere of “Nevermore: An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe” in late October, 2014, after a busy day of texting, emailing, phoning and generally doing the never-ending  business of opening a play,  Jeffrey Combs (the star) and me (the producer), having dealt with dozens of details and questions and answers regarding the production as it loomed closer (Halloween) including a full day of staging the show to “work” in the Somerville Theatre and solving the lighting and sound issues with the technicians, we had a conversation about acting and playing Poe.

Jeffrey had been doing the one-man show and playing Poe in “Nevermore” since 2009. The play, in fact, was born out of his portrayal of Poe in the HBO Masters of Horror television episode “The Black Cat”. I had produced the Baltimore premiere of “Nevermore” in 2010. One person shows are as old as theater, as old as storytelling, itself. It is, in a sense, a very pure theater---just an actor and an audience.

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A SCROOGE FOR ALL SEASONS: Lionel Barrymore's Twenty-Year National Run in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

By Craig Wichman


( "Ebenezer contemplating the mic of CBS." A moody portrait, taken when Lionel began his Carol contract for the network in 1935.)

Picture if you will a brisk Christmas Eve of the early 1970’s in the snowy countryside around Defiance, Ohio. A teenage boy and his young sister sneak away from the extended family festivities taking place in the wood-paneled basement, to hunker down on the carpeting in front of a hulking Entertainment Center upstairs. The strains of Bernard Herrmann conducting Tchaikovsky’s Theme from Piano Concerto No.1 (aka Tonight We Love) begin, and soon the two are whisked away to Queen Victoria’s England—and somehow, to Franklin Roosevelt’s America at the same time!

WOWO Ft. Wayne (“The 50,000 Watt Voice of Farming”) was rebroadcasting the classic 1939 Campbell Playhouse production of “A Christmas Carol.” The show was as magical that night as when first heard on the eve of the Second World War, and its powerful dramatization of Dickens’ heart-gripping tale of redemption was to be one of the main reasons why the present writer—only 4 years old when Classic Radio Drama was decimated by the American networks in 1962— became a life-long lover of “The Theater of the Imagination,” as well as a sometime portrayer of Ebenezer Scrooge.

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STUART GORDON: THE POE FOREVERMORE INTERVIEW

Stuart Gordon
Stuart Gordon in his office.

With two plays performing on opposite ends of the country in October of 2014, the director of “Nevermore: An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe” (East Coast) and “Re-Animator: The Musical” (West coast) talked with Mark Redfield (who was asked by Jeffrey Combs to come aboard and serve as Associate Producer to help launch “Nevermore” in Boston) about the making-of both plays. And very different plays, they are, too.

“Nevermore”, starring Combs as Poe, will play in Boston at The Somerville Theatre Halloween night, and is a searing tight-rope walk by Combs, creating a portrayal of Poe that is both wildly funny and harrowingly tragic and sad.

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DENNIS PAOLI: THE POE FOREVERMORE INTERVIEW

Dennis Paoli
Dennis Paoli.

Dennis Paoli writes plays and films. His oeuvre includes adaptations of the works of Poe and Lovecraft. Re-Animator (1985), Dreams of the Witch House (2005), The Black Cat (2007) and Nevermore: An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, a one-man play starring Jeffrey Combs that has been winning and astonishing audiences around the country since its premiere at The Steve Allen Theatre in Los Angeles in 2009.

When Paoli is not writing for the stage or screen or collaborating with long-time collaborators Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs, he teaches writing and Gothic Literature at Hunter College, City University of New York. He is also Donor/Advisor of the Heidi Paoli Fund for cancer patients.

I talked with Dennis about his approach to adaptation and screen and play writing, and getting under the skin of the man Edgar Allan Poe, in early October, 2014.

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STEFANIE ROCKNAK: THE POE FOREVERMORE INTERVIEW

Rocknak Sculpture
Detail of the final design of "Poe Returning to Boston".

PART ONE

Poe belongs to the city of Boston in 2014, and the unveiling on October 5th of Stefanie Rocknak’s powerful and dynamic statue of the poet, called Poe Returning to Boston, leads the way.
I was lucky to catch the busy and hectic sculptor during a particularly hectic and busy time---the ground had just been broken by the construction crews in Boston’s Edgar Allan Poe Square, and Rocknak was taking a brief break from running between The Hub, the foundry where the life-sized statue is being cast in bronze, and Hartwick College in New York, where she is an associate professor of philosophy…
-Mark Redfield

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THE MIKE FLANAGAN INTERVIEW

OCULUS - Poster
OCULUS Poster

Filmmaker Mike Flanagan’s new film OCULUS opened in theaters in the US on April 11, 2014.

Critics have universally praised the film, and the opening weekend box office numbers were impressive.

In 2011, I asked my friend and film editor, Sean Paul Murphy (who is also a successful screenwriter) to interview Flanagan for my magazine Monsterpalooza, marking the occasion of the release of his first horror film, ABSENTSIA. Two filmmaking friends and colleagues talking film. Here is that interview.
-Mark Redfield

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EDGAR ALLAN POE’S IRISH HERITAGE

Poe St. Patrick's Day

As the world celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day—from Brazil to Baltimore, from Trafalgar Square to Boston Commons—the day that originally was a Catholic Feast Day, but has now come to include the celebrations around the globe of all things Irish by the Irish Diaspora (and millions of “Irish-For-A-Day” folks!), we thought it a perfect time to celebrate Edgar Poe’s Irish heritage.

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