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Children's Theatre Serves Up Murder, Insanity

The Children's Theatre of Charlotte opens a new production today that carries a warning of macabre content and a suggested age limit of 11 years and older. The material will bring back memories of high school English class for many. So far this season, the Children's Theatre has served up youthful diversions including Rapunzel, The Borrowers, The Emperor's New Clothes and a Broadway musical adaptation of Dr. Seuss stories. Such fanciful fare makes for a jarring transition to this latest show: Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. Several of Poe's greatest hits, including The Raven, Annabel Lee and The Cask of Amontillado (which features a crazed killer) and The Tell-Tale Heart (also featuring a crazed killer) are part of the show. "It's incredibly macabre, it's dark, there's a lot of loud edgy music and it visits the themes that teenagers from adolescence really start to get fascinated with - death, insanity," says Mark Sutton, who plays one of the murderers in the show. His last Children's Theatre role was The Cat in the Hat of "Seussical. "The Cat in the Hat is kind of a madman, too," notes Sutton. "I think Edgar Allan Poe would actually kind of appreciate Dr. Seuss." Promotional materials for "Tales of Edgar Allan Poe" say it's "family friendly" but best for kids over 11. Jennifer Plym plans to follow that suggestion, taking her 10 year old daughter but leaving her three younger kids at home. Plym blogs at charlottesmartypants.com and holds season tickets to the Children's Theatre: "I think this is definitely a little outside of their box, so I'm intrigued by it," says Plym. The Children's Theatre typically does one heavier production aimed at older kids each season. Last year, it tackled the Holocaust. "Tales of Edgar Allan Poe" runs March 9-24, and then the lighter material returns with the singing animals who inhabit "Busytown." Rest assured there will be no raven in that cast.