CHS presents: ‘An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe’

Curtain opens Thursday March 16 at 7 pm for 2023 Theatre Department production


BY JIM BEERS, Contributing Writer

CHESTER – The acclaimed Chester High School Theatre Department is proud to announce that its 2023 production will open this Thursday March 16 at 7 p.m.



CHS Theatre Director, Rana Hodge, oversees rehearsal at a recent preparation for the upcoming production of, “An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe”. The 2023 production opens this Thursday March 16 at 7 p.m. at CHS Juergen’s Gym Stage. Tickets are now available at the CHS Office. Jim Beers Photo


This year’s production is a bit different and will bring a sense of drama, suspense, and mystery to Juergen’s Gym Stage at CHS as the theatre students present, “An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe”.

The overall evening’s performance will feature five different excerpts from some of Poe’s most famous stories including “Amontillado”, “The Purloined Letter”, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Oblong Box”, and “The Tale-Tell Heart”. There will be a brief intermission after the conclusion of “The Fall of the House of Usher”, after which “The Oblong Box” will begin the second half of the production.


Tickets are now on sale at the Chester High School Office and by contacting any of the Theatre Department students. Tickets are $10 each for adults 12 and older, and FREE for children under the age of 12.


The production will open Thursday evening March 16 at 7 p.m. with evening performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday March 16, 17, and 18. There will also be an afternoon matinee performance Saturday March 18 at 2 p.m.


Theatre Director, Rana Hodge, said, “The kids have been working very hard since before the Christmas break and pretty much have it ready to go right now. We will go ahead and rehearse Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday March 13, 14, and 15, but I am very proud of their hard work and efforts and they could take it to the stage right now if necessary.”


A cast and crew of 26 Chester High Students have collaborated to make the production come to fruition over the past several months. In that hard-working and talented group of students are 13 cast members who will appear on stage, six crew members, and nine managers who have been responsible for putting it all together and making it all happen.


Rana Hodge said, “This is my second year as Theatre Director and my philosophy has been that the theatre productions belong to the students and that they take the responsibility for the show.”


“The managers create the successes of their respective areas and work hard to make sure everything gets done that is necessary. Parents and other adults are not very involved in the kid’s productions and the students take great pride in taking responsibility for completing what is necessary for successful productions.”


This year’s cast features Chelsea August, Kerringtyn Malley, Julia Venus, Noah Wetzel, Cailey Bainter, Haley Hoskin, Ash Pfeiffer, Nico DeGuzman, Ary Shipley, Milo Amelia Crawford, Liam Holland, Jason Sibley, and Emma Murphy.


Two of the cast members, Noah Wetzel and Cailey Bainter, also have major roles as managers and do a great job of fulfilling the responsibilities of those roles.


Managers include Aden McFarland, Assistant Theatre Director; Cesar Marquez, Props and Set, Will Welge, Props and Set; Rylie McDonough, Lights and Sound; Isaiah Roth, Social Media; Mikayla Straight, Stage Manager; Lydia Smith, Assistant Stage Manager; Noah Wetzel, Rehearsal Manager; and Cailey Bainter, Wardrobe Manager.


Crew Members include Malachai Greathouse, Abigail Hicks, Bailey Sellers, Elizabeth Wilson, Johanna Frazer, and Makenzie Stauffer.


The cast of the CHS Theatre Production of, “The Purloined Letter” takes a break from rehearsals. (Left to right):  Julia Venus, Ary Shipley, Noah Wetzel, Jason Shipley, Liam Holland, and Haley Hoskin. The production of, “An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe” opens Thursday March 16 at 7 p.m. Jim Beers Photo


The entire production will feature five of Poe’s most famous thrillers. The evening will begin with Story #1, “Amontillado”. In this feature, Montresor deceits Fortunato into the ancient catacomb to meet his unfortunate demise.


Cast members include Montresor, the villain, played by Kerringtyn Malley, and Fortunado, the victim, played by Julia Venus.


Story #2 follows with “The Purloined Letter”. After a mysterious letter is stolen from the Queen, a genius detective and his assistant take the case.


Cast members include Dupin, the detective, played by Jason Sibley; Daignault, a friend, played by Haley Hoskin; Prefect, the police chief, played by Noah Wetzel; Her Highness, played by Ary Shipley; His Highness, played by Ash Pfeiffer; Prime Minister, played by Julia Venus; and policemen, played by Liam Holland, Milo Amelia Crawford, and Emma Murphy.


Story # 3 ends the first act prior to the brief intermission. This excerpt is titled, “The Fall of the House of Usher”. In this production a family has a mysterious curse. A distraught Roderick fears that the curse has fallen upon his sister. He must find out before it is too late! Can his best friend Rhodes save him before it is too late?


Cast members include Roderick Usher, the main character and guitar player, played by Nico DeGuzman; Rhodes, the friend, played by Chelsea August; Madeline Usher, Roderick’s twin, played by Ary Shipley; The Doctor, played by Kerringtyn Malley; and Jason Sibley as an extra.




Story # 4 is featured immediately following the brief intermission. “The Oblong Box” tells the story of Renelle, who is traveling across the ocean, and finds out that her college friend will be traveling on the same ship. Turns out that the friend had some mysterious “luggage” that contains something very interesting!


The cast features Renell, played by Ary Shipley; Cornelius, played by Noah Wetzel’ Captain Hardy, played by Jason Sibley; Wyatt’s wife, played by Juila Venus; Wyatt’s sisters, Marian, played by Haley Hoskin, and Madeline, played by Chelsea August; Various passengers played by Cailey Bainter, Bailey Sellers, and Emma Murphy; and Crew members, played by Kerringtyn Malley.


Story # 5 (The final story). The final story of the production is, “The Tell-Tale Heart”. A young man named Burke, who is being driven mad by his elderly roommate’s “evil eye”, has taken drastic measures. He seeks to prove his sanity…but things don’t end the way he planned!

Cast members include Burke, played by Ash Pfeiffer; an old man, played by Liam Holland; and policemen, played by Emma Murphy, Noah Wetzel, and Jason Sibley.


Cast and crew members are most excited about the 2023 production and are anxious for opening night Thursday March 16!


Senior Noah Wetzel, is in the cast of three of the Edgar Allen Poe excerpts, but is most proud of his role as Rehearsal Manager. “This is my second season in the Theatre Department productions. Last year I was associated with the 2022 production of Tuck Everlasting.”


“This year I have accepted more responsibility as Rehearsal Manager and I have a bigger role in the overall success of the entire production. This year we have a very dedicated group and we all want this to be a better production than last year.”


Wetzel is of the opinion that the format of this year’s production is unique with the five different scenarios and that it allows for more creativity from the cast members. Wetzel intends to attend SWIC next year and has several options on the table for his future career.


Senior Makayla Straight is Stage Manager and is serving in the Theatre Department for her third year. She enjoyed working with props in “Shrek the Musical” her first two years (due to Covid-19), and is excited to be Stage manager this season.


“I manage entries to and exits from the stage, operate the curtains, and keep order back stage. It is exciting working behind the scenes, but I do not like being in the spot light.”

Next year Straight will attend Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and wants to major in Psychology.

Pictured (left to right) are Bailey Sellers, Cailey Bainter, and Lydia Smith, who wee arranging wardrobe outfits for the cast of the upcoming CHS Theatre Production of “An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe”. The show opens this Thursday March 16 at the CHS Juergens Gym Stage at 7 p.m.  Jim Beers Photo


Another behind-the-scenes crew member is Cailey Bainter, a junior at CHS. Bainter serves as Wardrobe Manger and has a non-speaking role in Story # 4. Bainter also enjoys helping with hair and makeup. This is her second year in theatre having worked with the crew of “Tuck Everlasting” last year as a sophomore.


Bainter said, “I really enjoy working with wardrobe, hair and makeup. I did that last year and take pride this year in being responsible for everyone’s wardrobe. Mrs. Hodge has given me lots of freedom and responsibility and I like that!  Junior Bailey Sellers, and sophomore Lydia Smith are big helpers with my department. Together we make a great team.”

CHS junior, Aden McFarland, Assistant Director of the 2023 CHS Theatre Production of “An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe” poses for a photo after overseeing a rehearsal for the upcoming opening Thursday March 16 at 7 p.m…  Jim Beers Photo


Assistant Director, Aden McFarland, a junior, is in his third year working in the CHS Theatre Department productions. He was on stage in “Shrek” and was the Light Manager last year in “Tuck Everlasting”.


McFarland said, “This year I have a very important role as Assistant Director. When Mrs. Hodge is not in the gym for rehearsals, I am in charge. The kids listen to me and know that I can manage the rehearsals. Our cast is strong and can get the job done. We seem to have fewer bumps this year. We are all very confident and excited!”


Plenty of seats remain and can be purchased by simple calling or visiting the CHS Office. Tickets are also available at the door each night. T-shirts are also be available at this time and concessions will be sold at each performance.