Scary and straight-up” – that is the impression Duffy Hudson had of the works of Edgar Allan Poe as a 9-year-old.
“It was cool fiction,” Hudson, now an actor who performs one-man theater shows around the country, remembers thinking of Poe’s creepy “Tell-Tale Heart,” and mysterious “The Raven.”
“I was only 9 years old when my father started reading me ‘The Raven,’” Hudson recalled recently in a telephone interview. As the Halloween holiday approached that year, he started to memorize the melodious lines of the 18-verse poem.
Apparently, it didn’t take long for the impressionable young reader to take the macabre author to heart. “From a very young age, Poe became a haunting for me,” Hudson said.
He ultimately would channel his fascination with the 1800s-era writer into “In the Shadow of the Raven” – a one-man show he has performed 1,200 times over the years.
This weekend, Hudson will bring that show to the Prescott Center for the Art’s Stage Too at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30.
Frank Malle, the local producer of the show, recalls seeing Hudson as Poe on a California stage. “He becomes Poe,” Malle said, noting that the actor shows an impressive grasp of writer’s manner. “He stays in character – not only for the performance, but for the question-and-answer afterward.”
Taking the point of view of Poe at the end of his life, Hudson said he portrays the writer “just being himself, as his life is flashing before his eyes” – complete with lines from classics “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee.”
A news release from Stage Too states: “In ‘The Shadow of the Raven,’ Edgar Allan Poe stumbles on as if in the final moments of his life. Weaving biographical material and the performance of some of Poe’s most brilliant works, this show gives a glimpse into the life of one of America’s most influential and enigmatic personalities.”
The next evening, Hudson will take on another of his interests, when he performs as Harry Houdini, the famous illusionist with died in 1926.
Hudson says he has performed “Houdini” about 100 times. “People like Houdini; he’s a fun guy,” he says of the performer known for his escape acts. “He would defy death to get a crowd.”
During the performance, Hudson says he escapes from a straitjacket.
Hudson, who is based in Los Angeles, writes his own material, and also is a teacher and filmmaker, according to his website. After graduating from college, he moved to New York City, where he attended the Circle in the Square Theater School, on Broadway.
He has directed more than 300 theatrical pieces, including workshop productions with Brooke Shields, “The Three Sisters” with Jessica Lange, Don Johnson and Tatum O’Neal, and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” with Marlo Thomas.
Noting that “In the Shadow of the Raven” will take place at Stage Too the night before Halloween, Malle said, “I thought Halloween was perfect for Edgar Allan Poe, and Houdini died on Halloween.”
Tickets for the performances are $20 and are available online at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the box office at 928-445-3286. The Prescott Center for the Arts is located at 208 N. Marina St., Prescott.