Chicago's First Folio Conjures Past Hit Madness of Edgar Allan Poe, Staged in a Mansion, Opening Sept. 29

News   Chicago's First Folio Conjures Past Hit Madness of Edgar Allan Poe, Staged in a Mansion, Opening Sept. 29
The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story, a popular and sold-out Chicago-area title in 2006, gets revived by First Folio Theatre in Oak Brook, IL, opening Sept. 29. Christian Gray plays the American horror writer Poe in the walkabout experience through historic Mayslake Peabody Estate.

Diane Mair and Christian Gray
Diane Mair and Christian Gray

FFT executive director David Rice penned the acclaimed Jeff Award-nominated play, billed as a "riveting tale of life and death, love and heartbreak." Theatregoers go room to room in the experience, meeting Poe, his wife and classic characters. Previews began Sept. 26 for a run to Nov. 4. Mayslake Peabody Estate is at 31st St. & Rt. 83.

Michael Goldberg (Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream at First Folio) directs the play, featuring Gray (A Moon for the Misbegotten at First Folio Theatre) as poet and horror story writer Edgar Allan Poe.

Playwright Rice received a Jeff Award nomination for New Adaptation in 2007 for the play, "based on the life and writings of the famed author," according to FFT notes. "Poe's macabre and melancholic tales and poems come to life in this mesmerizing play…[in which] Poe and his wife Virginia guide the audience from room to room through historic Mayslake Hall, taking them from the garrets to the dungeons and deep into the madness of Edgar Allan Poe. [The] artfully structured journey into the life and literature of the great American horror writer focuses with sorrowful clarity on Poe's overwhelming obsession with his wife, Virginia, who died of tuberculosis at age 24. Poe married her when she was 13 and he was 27."

The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story also features Diane Mair (Sense and Sensibility at Northlight Theatre) as Virginia Poe; Robert Allan Smith (Guantamamo at Timeline) as "The Madman" and "The Prisoner"; and Annelise Lawson (named "Best Actress" in Chicago Reader's "Best of 2012" issue) as "Ligeia." The ensemble features Robbie Bersano, Erica Bittner, Daniel Gilbert, Michael Holding and Megan Ingram.

The creative team includes scenic designer Kyle Gettelman, who "transforms the Mayslake Hall into Poe's dark and eerie mansion"; costume designer Rachel Lambert; sound designer Christopher Kriz; lighting designer Michael McNamara; stage manager Kate Danziger; assistant stage manager Beth Zupec. For more information, visit

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