State of the Arts
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes,” says Witch Two as Macbeth approaches.
At the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Something Wicked This Way Comes will be here Oct. 28. Professional actors read classic horror, ghost and “darkly funny” tales, accompanied by live theremin music and sound effects. It’s become a favorite way to celebrate the season, and the one-night only event sells out every year.
“There’s nothing more compelling than watching an amazing artist with a wonderful bit of text,” says director Brian Crowe. “Then add in the element that you’re in a dark, creepy, ancient theater.” Something Wicked This Way Comes takes place on the set of the current production, in this case Thornton Wilder’s ghostly play, “Our Town.”
A mix of little known gems and classic works are performed. One of the selections this year is “The Tell-Tale Heart,” perhaps Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous short story. To hear it again is to remember why it is considered great. In about 15 minutes, a complex psychological portrait is drawn that could be straight out of the television series Lost: “He had the eye of a vulture — a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold…” (The Jersey Arts Podcast features a full reading of “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey actor Ames Adamson.)
On stage with the actors, and just as interesting to watch, will be a theremin played by John Hoge. The otherworldly, sci-fi sounds of the theremin are created by moving hands around antennas that control pitch and volume; the instrument itself is never touched. It’s the oldest electronic instrument, invented in Russia in 1928, and it provides a perfect score for the evening.
Something Wicked This Way Comes is one night only — Monday, Oct. 28 — at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University in Madison. In December, there will be another evening of readings, Something Merry This Way Comes. For tickets, visit ShakespeareNJ.org.