The High Springs Playhouse plans to cover patrons in goosebumps this Friday when it premieres an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” to kick off the theatre’s 30th season.
“It's definitely a high voltage hit, and [the cast] worked really, really hard to give these darker characters just as much life as you would a comic character,” Jennifer Applebee said in a phone interview.
Applebee will direct the show for its 12-performance run—each Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October—and also serves as artistic director the High Springs Playhouse.
The seven cast members held a video call two weeks ago with Jack Neary to understand the characters. Neary adapted the play from Poe’s short story, but he added some twists.
“This one is definitely a total adaptation,” Applebee said. “He's taken the original story of Poe, and he stuck it in 1930 and he's turned it into a detective with a flashback.”
Resurrected each year for Halloween, many of Poe’s tales center on the macabre and horror, and Applebee said the play takes the angle of a murder mystery. She compares it to the TV show “True Detective,” with flashbacks in the middle of interrogations.
The play differs from many of the Playhouse’s typical offerings, Applebee said. Patrons have enjoyed the comedies, farces, romances and dramedies, but “The Fall of the House of Usher” will mix it up for the 30th season, bringing something new compared with later shows.
“The pressure, definitely, is on for me as a director for the first show out of the gate,” Applebee said. “On your 30th season, you want to come out making sure that it's the best quality that you can produce to emphasize to your patrons that this is what you can expect throughout the year.”
Applebee said the opening weekend has already sold well, with Sunday’s show almost at capacity. She said Sundays typically sell well for the theatre.
The Playhouse has five other shows lined up.
- A Christmas Story
Dec. 2 – 18, 2022
Directed by Steve Bates
- You Can’t Take It With You
Feb. 3-26, 2023
Directed by Julie Tucker
- Death By Chocolate
April 7 – 30, 2023
- Nunsense- the Musical
June 2 – 25, 2023
Directed by Diana Child
- The Wind in the Willows
July 27 – August 7, 2023
Directed by Carter Hill
The Playhouse held a gala in September for the 30th season. At the gala, the Wagmore Foundation awarded the theatre with a $13,000 grant. Combined with an $8,000 grant from the Nehl Institute, the Playhouse will add a digital marquee by the road and install new seats.
Applebee said the marquee should be installed by late October or early November, but the seats are on backorder at the moment. The grants will completely pay for the upgrades, Applebee said.
The High Springs Playhouse started in 1993 at the GFWC High Springs New Century Woman’s Club before moving into the church building at 23416 NW 186th Avenue in 2002.
Applebee said longstanding volunteers and patrons have kept the Playhouse performing.
“The Playhouse is successful because of all hands on,” Applebee. “It takes an army to raise a show and to raise a season. So, it's the dedicated volunteers and our patrons who continue to support us.