Children in the Mist, written by and starring Sean Pflueger and directed by Gregory Stuart, is an adaptation of Steven King’s The Mist in which a father (Pflueger as David Drayton) and son (Henry Buckholz as Billy Drayton) and a large group of local townspeople are trapped in the local grocery store surrounded by a mysterious and seemingly dangerous mist. I was piqued when I first read the description for this Fringe show. What exactly is a horror opera? A horror story told through the style of a classic opera? And would I, an opera novice, be able to understand and enjoy the show? I can say that after the show, I am really glad that I decided to go. The story is fast paced, the musical score is full of complicated and beautiful melodies, and the singing talent is most impressive.
When David and Billy first enter the store, everyone is in a frenzy trying to stock up on supplies after weathering a severe storm the night before. It made me smile that the large ensemble cast was using their very serious singing tones – baritones, tenors, bass, sopranos, mezzo-soprano – to sing lyrics like “I need more toilet paper!” Everyone ends up being trapped in the store and any who venture out of the store are killed by something in the mist. As the shock and horror wears off, some of the people in the store turn to Mrs Carmody (Mezzo-Soprano Anamer Castrello) who insists that the mist is the work of God and anyone who ventures into it is damned. After being attacked by insects in the store, and the god fearing crowd turns on David, Billy, Dan (Tenor Kurt Hoffman), Amanda (Soprano Alisa Kieffer), and Hilda (Soprano Linda Kiemel) they escape in David’s truck hoping to escape the Mist.
The score is entrancing and several times I found myself swaying along to the music and sitting on the edge of my seat as it built up to events in the show. Pianist Kayme Henkel and Flutist Brian Lee played well under the direction of Conductor Brian Gendron.
I was a bit disappointed that there was not actually any mist, but I found out later that the production originally had mist in the show, but was prohibited from using the smoke machines. The highlights of the very talented signing cast was Pfleuger’s deep yet smooth butter-like bass-baritone and Alisa Kieffer’s (in the role of Amanda Dumfries) beautiful soprano voice as she hit each high night impeccably. Even though I had read the original short story and seen the movie, I was so drawn into the show that when the inevitable tragedy occurs at the end (it is an opera after all), I found myself ‘misty eyed.’
If you are looking for a fast-paced show filled with laughs, mystery, death, cult-ish worship, sacrifice, and some blood and body parts – Children in the Mist is a Must See!
For more information on the show and to purchase tickets, see our Fringe Preview.