Poe Night provides spooky sophistication at restaurant

Thursday , October 15, 2015 - 12:00 AM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

OGDEN — For several years Rovali’s Ristorante Italiano on Historic 25th Street in Ogden has been opening its doors to community performers and entertainers, and for the sixth year in a row, it’s hosting a Halloween reading of literature from Edgar Allan Poe and Ogden ghost stories, read by local authors.

Rovali’s Alex Montanez thought incorporating the author from the 1800s known for his grisly tales of mystery would be the perfect seasonal entertainment.

“Halloween is pretty big in Utah and Edgar Allan Poe’s poems are quite gloomy and dark, some of them even a little scary, and since people like to be spooked, we are creating the mood with cool decorations, lighting and sounds for the show,” said Montanez, adding the new stage will incorporate over two dozen local actors.

Some of the actors in the already sold-out show are students from the DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts in Ogden. Director of Theater Adam Slee said using actors for poetry brings out a different light to the art form.

“At events like poetry readings, it allows us to become microscopic on our content, giving a more intense performance within those two minutes, putting another twist on it,” Slee said. “So many people read poems, and don’t necessarily hear them, so this brings another outlook to the art form rather than just as a written form, with different levels and new twists of emotion.”

Slee recently heard one of his student actors reading “Annabel Lee” by Poe. “She made it become a heartbreaking love story, and even for me as an avid poetry reader, to hear that poem read that way, it opened my eyes up to think about the meaning and what the words are trying to say,” Slee said.

The power of poetry plays an integral role for people, said Slee, pointing out that poetry has been a part of the education system since the establishment of formal education.

“It is an art form that everybody is familiar with, so when people are having hard times, they will often write their feelings in a short story form, or create a song to express what they are feeling,” Slee said. “It is an extremely intimate experience and studying poetry allows us to see patterns and give the audience or reader a connection with the voices of our past.”

Every year for the Halloween Poe night, Montanez tries to outdo himself from previous years, and this year is no exception. “We have a whole conglomerate of people from different walks of life putting together this presentation that will hopefully have people talking,” Montanez said.

For instance, one performer will be doing a rap to one of Poe’s poems while another performer plans to sing one of Poe’s poems in a house-blues style.

This year’s Poe night sold out in just a few days, but Montanez said their events aren’t limited to just Halloween.

“We like to create something unique since we have so much local talent here in various forms that we want to tap into. It is just part of our DNA at Rovali’s, so we are following suit with Poe night and other events,” Montanez said.

Each weekend they have different performers and hope to continue finding more talent. “We are trying to discover and encourage people to get out there.”

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