Lore Live at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts

Lore Live performs the podcast with music but leaves something to be desired. Photo courtesy of Lore Tour

Lore Live performs the podcast with music but leaves something to be desired.
Photo courtesy of Lore Tour

How can the telling of bone chilling stories of mysterious creatures, getting lost in the woods, or finding a man living in a cellar under a family home ever be soothing? Easy: have the stories expertly written and read by Aaron Mahnke and musically backed with a gentle piano. Put that onto a stage and then this is Lore 

This October, fans fully immersed themselves into the world of Lore by listening to musician Chad Lawson play the piano while Mahnke read his scary stories to the audience. Normally, this experience is only provided through putting on headphones and turning on Mahnke’s bi-weekly podcast.  

Lore dives deep into the dark past of humanity. Mahnke and a team of researchers uncover historical stories and urban legends that reveal real life tales of monsters, murderers, hauntings, and creatures from nightmares.  

Whether it’s the story of the H.H. Holmes murder mansion or sightings of the Jersey Devil, Lore works to prove one thing time and time again: the only thing more frightening than fiction is the truth. 

In the recorded episodes, Lore succeeds in maximizing scares through setting an immersive mood: hauntingly beautiful scores while reading the stories with a delicate cadence. The live versions of the show proved to be largely the same as the episodes brought one thing that recordings cannot: community.  

Mahnke silently walked out onto the stage, well-worn journal in hand to a cheering audience before welcoming Lawson to the grand piano on stage. The air filled with Victorian era piano, setting the stage for a beautiful fright. 

In recorded episodes, Mahnke tells one full 20-minute story, with one or two five-minute or so sub-stories. Live, Mahnke instead told short story after short story with one full-length story to conclude. The live show began with the telling of the founder of Rhode Island, who was buried beneath an apple tree after his death. Nearly 200 years later, when exhuming his body to move to a proper burial site, his body was gone. What had been left behind were the roots of the apple tree in the shape of Roger Williams’ body. 

Mahnke set the stage, describing how both literally and metaphorically, roots define history. Family roots, roots to a piece of land, or roots to a culture serve as the foundation for the stories they tell. From his weathered journal, he told handfuls of short stories, ranging from a man hosting his own funeral before his death, camels mistaken for the devil, and getting lost in witch inhabited forests. The evening came to a close with a full-length story of a woman mistaken for a real-life werewolf, and how her town smelted their silver crosses into silver bullets to stop her.  

When Mahnke’s hour and a half fireside chat came to a close, the audience did not buzz. They did not excitedly turn to their friends, saying, “Wasn’t that the most amazing thing ever?!” Instead, the audience reflected on the masterfully presented evening of the macabre and the wonderful, surrounded by community. Without community, Mahnke’s stories would not exist. Moments such as Lore Live ensure that stories outlive us all, no matter how terrifying they may be.  

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