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The Pit and the Pendulum - a musicabre

Updated: Jul 14, 2022


Musical short film adaptation of the classic Poe story (from the makers of "The Tell-Tale Heart - a musicabre", winner of over 60 film festival awards). A desperate composer imagines himself both the victim and the Inquisition in Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”. Reality and fantasy converge with frightening consequences

Our Review:

Set during the inquisition times, this is one of those very strange films that's hard to explain and it's best that one just sees it for themselves. It is a constructive piece of art work that weaves together live action, the use of the music score and animation. The look, costume, make up and styling is simply brilliant. The story is told clearly in the chosen format.  Colour, texture, and sound can powerfully shift moments of tension and conflict when utilized to their full advantage. This film had the power to connect with our emotions and leave us entertained.

Director Biography - Danny Ashkenasi

Danny Ashkenasi has been acting professionally since the age of ten and composing musical works that have been publicly produced since the age of fourteen. In pursuing these arts, he has also developed his expertise as a writer, singer, director, producer and teaching artist. In recent years he has focused on creating and performing musical works that highlight the American experience, by adapting American literary masters and focusing on pertinent American historical and social themes.

Danny Ashkenasi just completed his second film project, the musical Poe adaptation “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre”, sibling to his first film short "The Tell-Tale Heart - a musicabre", winner of over 65 film festival awards. Danny Ashkenasi composed the music, wrote the screenplay, produced, directed and performed the lead roles in both films.

Recent theatrical musical writing projects include “Speakeasy – John and Jane’s Adventures in the Wonderland” which delves into the little known Queer culture of Prohibition era New York City in fantastical Carrollesque fashion; and “Feedstore Quartet” (Book and co-lyricist: Jack Hilton Cunningham) set in 1950’s Mississippi, a Director's Choice Award Winner for Mainstream Musicals.

Danny adapted over 60 Langston Hughes’ poems in a full length musical revue called “I Too Sing America – The Blues According to Langston Hughes”, which was performed at the Harlem Renaissance Festival at the Metropolitan Playhouse, New York. Danny performed in his musical adaptation of Herman Melville’s “Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!” at the Metropolitan Playhouse and FringeNYC. He also performed in “beTwixt, beTween & beTWAIN“, a Mark Twain Musical Comedy he wrote and composed, which had runs at the Metropolitan Playhouse and The Producer’s Club in NYC and also had a special performance at the Westport Library in CN.

Danny Ashkenasi is an American citizen who was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. Consequently he also acts and has musical compositions produced in that country, including the musical “Wir Pfeifen auf den Gurkenkoenig” (text: Peter Lund), which had a long run in Berlin, “Once Upon A Frog /Es war einmal ein Frosch”, which was originally performed in English in Berlin, and later enjoyed its German language premiere (translated by Danny Ashkenasi) at the Wetzlarer Festpiele; and “Hexen” (text: P. Lund), which has enjoyed dozens of productions throughout Germany, three alone in Berlin, including at the Deutsche Oper, as well as Austria and Finland (The English adaptation “Witches”, translated by Danny Ashkenasi, has been performed twice in New York.). He is the only composer twice invited as a finalist to the Hamburg Musical Festival.

Other US works includes “The Song of Job 9:11” (Text: D. Ashkenasi), performed in concert in New York numerous times since 2002, and produced theatrically at the FringeNYC Festival in 2004; and the chamber opera “Jenseits” (Text: Helga Krauss), produced as “Beyond” at the Village Temple and at the FringeNYC Festival 2005, both directed by Mr. Ashkenasi. He also composed a musicalisation (or “musicabre”) of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart“, which he performed (accompanied/surrounded by three cellos) at the Metropolitan Playhouse’s Poe festival and the FringeNYC Festival, where he won the FringeNYC award for “Outstanding Music and Lyrics”, and which was also produced by the TrypTych Concert and Opera in Toronto. Other musical works produced in New York include “When Thou, My Music, Music Play’st” (Text: W. Shakespeare, adapted from his Sonnets), “Lucky Hans” (Text: Margie Duffield) and “Les Artistes” (Text: Greg Steinbrunar). He has also composed several one-act musicals for the Berkshire Ensemble for Theatre Arts and the International Schools Theatre Association England Summer Program. Chamber music compositions of his include Evocations I – XXVII for Viola and Piano, Aphorisms for Mezzo Soprano and Trumpet, and the Spree Forest Suite for Flute and Harp, which was recorded by the Duo Elysee.

Additional acting credits include Off- and Off-Off Broadway, regional theater and tours, and theater, TV and film in Germany.

Director Statement

In this musical adaptation of the classic horror story, Poe's murderous Monks of the Inquisition who threaten the protagonist's life with increasingly diabolical methods are none other than the hero's own inner demons, realized in ways that are possible only in film. In contrast to my first Poe adaptation "The Tell-Tale Heart - a musicabre", which originally had been performed on stage before being reconceived as a short film (and which received over 65 film festival awards -, "The Pit and the Pendulum - a musicabre" is written and composed directly for the screen, encouraging an even more adventurous exploration of drama, music and visuals.


  • Danny Ashkenasi

  • Danny Ashkenasi

  • Danny Ashkenasi

  • Edward Elder

  • Henry Borriello

  • Danny Ashkenasi

  • Edward Elder

  • Mathew Gnagy

  • Gonzalo Trigueros

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