"It's the Poe show, a show about Poe!"
Last night was the premiere of the Princeton Triangle Club's "Stark Raven Mad", a comedic send-up to the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Since our son is reading Poe in his language arts class, we dragged him out to get him some culture and possible bonus points with his Poe-loving teacher.
The Triangle Club is made up of Princeton University undergrads and is in its 118th year of staging musical comedies. The cast and orchestra are an enormously talented group of students.
The show revolved around Eric and Claire. Eric is a stagehand who accidentally lost the raven prop used in his theater company's play about Poe. Claire works at a taxidermy shop, Taxidermy to the Maxidermy, and meets Eric when he comes in to purchase another raven before his theater company's production gets to the second act. Claire had just sold the last raven, so they set off across Baltimore to locate the girl who bought the raven and get it back from her in time to save Eric's play. Hilarity ensues. Eric and Claire's adventures are interspersed with the theater company's wild tributes to the works of Poe. A swishy, giggly, pun-dropping Poe introduces the interpretations of his literary works.
"The Pit and the Pendulum" was made into a song, with a woman in a tuxedo as the Pit and a woman in a silver cocktail dress as the Pendulum. The hapless prisoner sings along with the wild lyrics and dances with the Pendulum, who sings about slicing his flesh. "The Fall of the House of Usher" was introduced as "not an episode of 'MTV Cribs' gone wrong". Never before had I associated the works of Edgar Allen Poe with a disco ball and platform boots with glitter, but there it was in all of its choreographed glory.
The finale of each Triangle show is the kickline, when the male actors appear, dressed in drag and put on a raunchy song and dance routine. This year's kickline was "Ravenous", when the men came out in short black dresses, feathered sleeves, feathered caps, and knee high button-up boots. They sang about how they heard "your woodpecker drills long and deep" and how they'd love "to get flocked on your chamber floor". I was laughing too hard to cover my son's ears. It was truly a spectacle and one worth catching if you get a chance.