Poe Speakeasy thrills fans


By Sheryl Roadcap

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PIQUA — “True! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been …” Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart,” begins, at the start of the Edgar Allan Poe Speakeasy experience. Poe lovers may have felt similar, but more likely excited, as they walked into the room filled with nearly 200 other guests, which was adorned with 1800s Gothic aesthetics Thursday night.

The Edgar Allan Poe Speakeasy, a chilling story and cocktail experience that travels across the nation featuring the re-imagining of four classic Poe stories as told by Poe historians/actors made its way to Piqua on June 27 and 28. This 21-and-over, 90-minute, immersive experience, was scheduled to be held at the Fort Piqua Plaza Banquet Center on North Main Street in Piqua but was moved to The Round Barn Venue on Fox Drive due to a liquor license issue.

A ticket to the experience includes four cocktails that intends to closely complement the theme of each of the four stories told: “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” “The Raven,” and “The Masque of Red Death.” The intensity of each performers’ short story interpretation builds as each story is told. In between each of the stories was a brief intermission, during which attendees could stretch their legs or use the restroom and provided time for team members to collect empty glasses and hand out the next cocktail prior to the next story beginning.

The team of performers welcome guests, mix and serve the cocktails, as well entertain through their performances, while dressed in Poe-era attire. They have been touring the United States for the last 19 months.

“The honor is to perform for American people. And we go from town to town to town,” said one of the performers/team members of the show, Charles Munn, who is from Wales, U.K., but grew up in Florida, and now resides in New York. He said they travel 50 weeks out of the year. “And is there any better venue (to perform at) than one that looks like a circus venue” (referring to The Round Barn shape).

Rachel McGraw, who drove 2.5 hours from their home in Mansfield with her friend Heidi Cook to see the show, said “I think it was awesome and a lot of fun.”

At the end of the first show of the two-day stop in Piqua, both women admitted to being huge Poe fans and loving the experience.

“I thought it was absolutely personable, and the first story (“The Tell-Tale Heart”) was a little funny. It was unique — and the (drink) flavor profile was very good,” Cook said.

Guests are encouraged to arrive in cocktail attire for this event, and Julia Tirinnanzi, creator of the Edgar Allan Poe Speakeasy, said some have arrived to previous shows in full Victorian-era costumes. At the first show Thursday, several attendees where dressed as if they had a part in the show — and they did, from their seat, as participation with the stomping of feet engaged the audience.

“The goal of the stage design, was to make one feel as if they are stepping into Edgar Allan Poe’s personal home space,” Tirinnanzi previously told Miami Valley Today. “On some shows, you know, the guests are very reserved, and they’re kind of just taken aback by the performance. Other folks are drilling us with questions, they want to test our Poe knowledge,” she said.

Daniela Goetze-Lambes, of Piqua, said, “I love Edgar Allan Poe. It was such a fantastic experience. And I just really appreciated this production being so responsible by using paper straws and offering mocktails. I thoroughly enjoyed it — and the intensity of the actors; you can tell they really have a passion for what they do.”

For more information on the Edgar Allan Poe Speakeasy, including tickets, cocktail descriptions, and future tour dates visit www.edgarallanpoebar.com.

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