World premiere musical at Chemeketa

Just in time for the haunting season, Salem audiences can take in the world premiere staged readings of POE: The Musical. The play is not to be missed, says Jay Gipson-King, instructor of Theatre at Chemeketa Community College and President of the Salem Theatre Network. “Witty and sharp, and some beautiful music and lovely vocals,” he reports. “Poe is such a universally loved figure, but we know very little about his actual life.”

Poe: The Musical aims to change all that. Written and directed by Rachel Wolf, who also serves as music director, it tells the tale of America’s great literary icon, Edgar Poe, following him as he rises from the grave to repair a reputation sullied by his rival, Rufus Griswold.

Through hypnosis by his therapist – Death – Poe steps back into his life to reconcile the choices he once made, with the goal of ultimately finding peace in the beyond.

“Wolf’s musical brings the person of Poe to life in a way we have never seen before,” says Gipson-King.

Salem’s Nicholas D.G. Hikes, last seen on the Pentacle stage in Cabaret, stars in the titular role. Chemeketa students Christa L Fenton and Jackson Bailey are also featured, as well as Salem’s Caitlin Clark and Simon Staples. Ed Schoaps appears as Death and Portland’s Kathleen Lundquist rounds out the players.

“The show has both comedic and dramatic elements to it,” Wolf says, “with songs that pay homage to some of Poe’s most famous works as well as things that people may not know.”

The show has no mature or graphic content but may be too complex for minds under the age of 10.

“POE began exactly 30 years ago this month,” Wolf says, so it’s exciting to finally get it on the stage. And Edgar Poe died on October 7, 1849, making the timing of this perfect.”

Gipson-King notes that Chemeketa is a community theater, and “part of our mission is to create unique opportunities like this for our students and neighbors… Chemeketa is proud to present new works such as this, or Trill Theatre’s From Time to Time, which we hosted in August.”

Chemeketa’s next play will be José Rivera’s Giants Have Us in Their Books, Nov 2nd through 9th.


POE: The Musical

October 12th and 13th, 7 p.m.

Chemeketa Community College
4000 Lancaster Drive NE
Building 6 Auditorium

Free to Chemeketa students
Other students and Oregon Trail Card holders $10
General admission $20

At the door or online: