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‘Metamorphoses’ an experimental success

Drama department pushes boundaries for high school performing arts

Niko Newbould, Staff Reporter
Originally published October 19, 2017

Julian Whitworth

Junior Ellison McVicars as Pomona the wood nymph.

Walking into the Earl Kelly Performing Arts Center on the opening night of “Metamorphoses’” was an event in itself. Even before the show began you could tell that this wasn’t about to be your average high school play, the awe in the room focused on the pool that was crafted on stage for this production.

This pool acts as a main character of sorts, finding its way into the 10 different acts of the play that are based on Ovid’s tales. It was a place of love, of sorrow, of betrayal and quite often of magic. Whether it featured Silenus (senior Kate Garrison) drunkenly prophesying Midas’ (junior Brendan Hickey) future on the edge of the pool, or Myrrah (junior Cassidy Murphy) facing her battle with lust whilst splashing around, this pool was audibly a crowd favorite.

The pool was both impressive and mesmerizing, but was no match for the actual on-stage talent. Every actor came together to play two or more characters in addition to swapping between lead and ensemble roles throughout the different acts.

The play is split into two halves with a 15-minute intermission. Although at first the storyline can be confusing without basic knowledge of mythology, “Metamorphoses” promises to be a treat for all those who pay attention. In the first half, the language is for the most part dated with the occasional aside in modern style, but it is wonderfully paired with expressive performances that bring Ovid’s dialogue to life.

Although credit here has to be given to the creator of the original 1996 play, Mary Zimmerman, as well as the guest Director Chelsea DuVall, it clearly was the actors who stole the show. When Hunger (junior Cassidy Murphy) binds itself to Erysichthon (junior Riley Stowell), the audience not only learns the lesson of greed, but truly feels the struggle come to life.

Another highlight from the first half would be found in the scene where the audience is exposed to a deep love torn apart by the sea. To talk about being lost at sea in a deadly storm is one thing. To see the actors writhe around at the mercy of Poseidon (senior Kate Garrison) while physically thrashing around in the water is a whole other level.

The love between Ceyx (sophomore Diego Ortiz) and Alcyone (senior Erin Tangerberg) is powerful. It’s the simple things like this that elevate the play as a whole into a truly worthwhile experience. This trend remained true for all of the other acts throughout the play. The amount of work and dedication paid off as the passion in every performance carried through effortlessly.

The second half was what sold the show for me. The Therapy Act, where Phaeton (junior Skyler Neuen) simply floated around in the pool narrating his debilitating relationship with his father Apollo was genius. Neuen was wearing a golden sequin blazer and “Super Rich Kids” by Frank Ocean soundtracked the entire scene.

Not only was this unexpected, but it was delightfully executed and funny. This scene was a more modern rendition of Ovid’s traditional dialogue, yet even with the contemporary tone it still fit well with the rest of the play. This is just one example of the remarkable style throughout the show. Whether it be the beautiful costumes, the ever-changing colors of the lights, the varying array of music, the real fire used or even the strobe lights that are featured, it’s clear that all of these choices were made with the intention of going beyond high school theater norms.

“Metamorphoses” goes above and beyond all aspects including acting, staging and crowd response. The amount of people I saw who looked physically moved at the end of the play was astonishing and in itself a testament to how good the play really was.

“Metamorphoses” continues showing on Oct. 19 and 20 at the Earl Kelly Center for Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. curtain time. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students/seniors. If you only go to one school event this year, I’d highly recommend this thought-provoking show.

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‘Metamorphoses’ an experimental success