In 1971 The Mark Taper Forum followed Paul Sills' Improvisational 1970 "Story Theatre" with Sills's version of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" in 1971. The idea of reviving two thousand year old stories worked at the Taper and A Noise Within now reaches back over the years with the challenge of a stage filled with water. This exciting idea takes me back to what fun Gordon Davidson must have had as The Taper emerged as a hip and happening new space at The Music Center.
The beautiful performance space that Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott & Company have created through the good graces of the theatre lovers in Pasadena is impressive. A rectangular pool center stage reflects colorful lights.
Clockwise from center: Erika Soto, Trisha Miller,
Rafael Goldstein, Cassandra Marie Murphy
Photo by Craig Schwartz
Francois-Pierre Couture's splashy set serves and the far out business of the late sixties and early seventies comes to life again via MacArthur Fellow/ playwright Mary Zimmerman's script.
Having been away from ANW for several years, it's a pleasure to be invited back to see this new version of an idea that fifty years ago may have helped to inspire the Los Angeles Theatre scene that included The Company Theatre, The Burbage, The Odyssey & Scorpio Rising. Ovid's short scenarios presented by a talented cast of nine adept actors playing dozens of characters for Zimmerman's play, simply: works. Some of the stories are familiar (King Midas's Golden Touch) and some not so. Ovid's basic message is that when you mess with the gods, they might mess with you. Be careful what you wish for.
Lavish costumes by Garry Lennon are beautiful.
Kasey Mahaffy and Nicole Javier
Photo by Craig Schwartz
Each of Ovid's stories carries the burden of a moral. Geoff Elliott as a cranky King Midas bookends the Midas story to good effect.
Some stories don't always end well. For instance, the story of King Ceyx and his queen Alcyone. Ceyx was an adventurer who longed for the sea. Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolus, God of the Winds. There we go, mixing and matching the Gods and mere mortals. Spoiler alert! Listen to your wife, if her daddy is a god.
I was so wrapped up in the show, I failed to take many notes. There is one terrific battle scene in the pool that sent front row patrons scurrying to dryer realms.
You can't tell the players without a program. This protean company of
nine players successfully creates a myriad of characters. Consulting the in hand program presents an artsy array of how Ovid's myths have evolved. The actor who played Phaeton seemed to 'get it' that filling the huge space physically and vocally was not a bad idea.
The players are: DeJuan Christopher, Geoff Elliott, Rafael Goldstein, Nicole Javier, Kasey Mahaffy, Sydney A. Mason, Trisha Miller, Cassandra Marie Murphy, Erika Soto.
From the press release: Kudos to all:
"The creative team includes scenic
designer François-Pierre Couture;
lighting designer Ken Booth;
composer and sound designer Robert
Oriol; costume designer Garry
Lennon; properties designer
Shen Heckel; fight choreographer Kenneth
R. Merckx, Jr.; and
dramaturg Miranda Johnson-Haddad.
The production stage manager is Amy
Adapted freely by Mary Zimmerman from David R. Slavitt’s free-verse translation of “The Metamorphoses of Ovid”
Directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott
A Noise Within
3352 E Foothill Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107
May 14 through June 5 on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.;
Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.(no 2 p.m. matinee on May 14)
Sundays at 2 p.m. .
In addition, there will be six student matinees at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11; Tuesday, May 17; Wednesday, May 18; Thursday, May 19, Tuesday, May 24 and Wednesday, May 25. Interested educators should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets start at $25. Student tickets start at $18. Tickets to the preview on Thursday, May 12 will be Pay What You Choose, with tickets starting at $5 (available online beginning at 12 p.m. the Monday prior to that performance). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.
Parking is free in the Metro Parking behind the theatre.