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'Red Death' combines Poe, opera, ballet in beautiful collaborative effort

Renown tenor, Nathan Granner stars as Prince Prospero in the KC Fringe Festival production of "Red Death," that combines Edgar Allen Poe's story with opera and ballet.
Renown tenor, Nathan Granner stars as Prince Prospero in the KC Fringe Festival production of "Red Death," that combines Edgar Allen Poe's story with opera and ballet.
Courtesy of Kansas City Fringe Festival

"Red Death" at KC Fringe Festival

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And the red death comes as a pestilence in the night to strike and destroy all in its proximity with a 30-minute horrific death. No one is immune, and no one has an antidote for this avatar of death based on the Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Masque of the Red Death.”

“Red Death,” by Mummer Opera Company, continues to attract large crowds to the Off Center Theatre in Kansas City’s Crown Center with its unique blend of Poe macabre magic, opera, and ballet. The show features the voice of worldly reknown operatic tenor, Nathan Granner, as Pince Prospero. Equal to the operatic work by Granner and Devon Barnes, the piece stands out for the lyrical ballet, choreographed by Kansas City, Kansas native Amy Hurrelbrink.

According to the Fringe program: “Join Prince Prospero in the safety of his castle as plague and pestilence ravages the land. He will delight and entertain you with a magnificent masqued ball. Tara Varney directs this operatic adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "Masque of the Red Death" starring tenor Nathan Granner, with music by Daniel Doss and choreography by Amy Hurrelbrink.”

The show is amazing. As guests leave the auditorium you can hear them talk about the singing the dancing and each person seems to have their own special focus of what they thought was inspiring in the production. The show is a beautiful blend of story, singing, and dancing. Not enough credit can be given to those who performed and produced this entry in the 2014 Kansas City Fringe Festival.

Anyone who is familiar with the short story by Edgar Allen Poe knows that the party is an attempt to make fun of the poor while the rich lock themselves away in the prince's palace to avoid the pestilence of the red death. They believe that they are economically and socially above such demonic plagues, so they party and dance their way to their own death. The seven rooms that lead to the final room are conveyed by changing lighting throughout the piece. It’s very subtle, but it works.

Watch for this show to compete for “Best of Venue” and received the encore performance on Sunday, July 27. The show receives the highest recommendations for general audiences.

Cast includes Nathan Granner as Prospero, Devon Branes as his servant, Coleman Crenshaw as the Red Death, and dancers: Chelsea Anglemyer, Josh Atkins, Amy Hurrelbrink, Tyler Parsons, Tiffany Powell.

The creative team includes: accompanist, Michaelis Koutsupides; music, Daniel Doss; liberetto, Bryan Colley; director, Tara Varney; choreography, Amy Hurrelbrink; costumes, Tara Varney, Sam Varney Cheryl Varney, Amy Hurrelbrink; scenic design, Bryan Colley; lighting, Shane Rowse.

Tickets can be purchases at the venue’s door, or online at the KC Fringe website.