By Jaimz Dillman
Images courtesy of Phantasmagoria
"Tales of the Undead" is a show title that just jumps out as a perfect offering to any spooky season. An event more appropriate coming from Orlando’s own Victorian Storytelling Troupe- Phantasmagoria. The group comprised of dancers, singers, and puppeteers returns to the stage for their 14th season of macabre madness. Among the ghost stories and haunting songs is also a touch of humor.
Director John DiDonna said, “We always include a comic piece. One of the ones we’re bringing back- rewritten and restaged- is from HG Wells. The whimsically bewildered ghost. Horror and comedy go really well together.”
Along with the usual suspects, lesser known works are being featured this year. Carmilla from Sheridan Le Fenu and funeral poems from prominent names but may have been rarely heard- Frost, Dickens, Hardy, Dickenson… all wrote pieces that work wonderfully well in the Phantas world. An original story by Eric Keevan, who has a long history working with DiDonna even before Phantasmagoria, is also included. DiDonna said, “We pieced together some different elements and he created a wonderful story for us. It’s haunting, eerie, and hopeful.”
This is also the second year with original music from Josh Solomon. Along with Midnight Madame herself, Mo’mo Lynne, the score rounds out the visual scenery all created by the performers and the use of projections and 3 life-size puppets. “We’ve got a jaunty cabaret song in the middle of a graveyard, our setting this year. That’s where Tales From the Undead came from. People used to spend time in graveyards like a park so that’s where the whole theme came from. It’s been fun.” says DiDonna.
When asked how a group so rooted in the past keeps themselves relevant to today’s audiences DiDonna said, “ A lot of the stories we choose are relevant to the human head. Ultimate terror, attraction. We look for things that are universal. The stories may have been told 200 years ago but it still speaks to the heart and soul.”
More tales will come in the holiday season, too. Seven more actually. The Halloween and holiday tours wind through Central Florida with stops in Tampa, DeLand, Ocala, Orlando, and more.
Check out phantasmagoriaorlando.com for show and ticket information… as they say… if you dare.