Sunday, September 18, 2005

Alcestis

Classic Greek Theatre of Oregon
September 18, 2005; closes October 16, 2005

Timely, handsome production. Straightforward translation plainly staged. Enticing connection to great stories from the very roots of theatre. I was wrapped up in dialogue scenes, but not so much the declamatory orations, even if historic. Production’s authenticity would have benefited from live musicians with period instruments instead of canned accompaniment.

8 comments:

Follow Spot said...

Can any theatre historians out there elaborate on how music is thought to have been handled back in the day? Would it be difficult to recreate? It's been a while since I took theatre history, but I'd love to know more.

jeff said...

Good performances by the principals, beautiful and simple set, and the lighting was so-so (I blame the designer).

The chorus deserves kudos for having a lot thrown at them and pulling it off: the prop of doom (a 6' wooden staff), large hats, synchronized choreography and rediculosly-complicated music and melodies.

Followspot said he would have prefered live musicians, but it wasn't the music being pre-recorded that I didn't like, it was that it sounded intentionally complicated. Like the composer went out of her way to make every note in the melody different. I don't envy the chorus for having to learn it.

Brian said...

LOVED the music -- magical, richly textured, exciting: it lived up to the billing: Romantic Thriller. Great to have music written that didn't either sound like pop tunes or Andrew Lloyd Weber!

My favorite thing about the production, though, was the weird mix of tragedy and laughter. I caught it when about 200 high school kids were there. Thought it'd be one continual flirt and squirm, but they were really hooked. Loved the Hercules guy the best, of course, but that's understandable.

Same lighting designer as when Jeff saw it, but hard to argue with the guy!

Mindy said...

I agree with Brian -- the music is amazing & beautiful, although it's not the easy hummable stuff some folks might prefer.

Speaking of beautiful, though, a lot of the cast is definite eye candy -- fun to have an Apollo who really looks the part!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for noticing the hard work of the Chorus, Jeff. It's been a while since I've been quite so terrified of a choral score going into it . . . and the amazing thing is that several members of our Chorus don't have any previous experience with choral singing, or musicals, and do not even read music. I'm amazed at the work they did, and our musical director Dana McCray deserves high praise.

As to follow spot's questions, I don't know anything about the instruments of the time, but a musical director friend of mine from Spain assured me there is no record of two-part harmony before the ninth century of the modern era. So much else of what people do with ancient Greek drama today is speculative, as well, however, that we just have to say "that's the way we're doing it." It is a pretty interesting score, composed by Rebecca Becker and orchestrated by Mark LaPierre.

This week we move from the outdoor amphitheater at Reed to the basement performance hall in Lincoln Hall at PSU, where both odes and acting by the principles will be able to modulate considerably. Veterans tell me it's almost a totally different show.

Thanks for the warm praise, folks.

-- A Member of the Chorus

Anonymous said...

One more weekend -- go see this. There's nothing else like it in Portland.

Michael said...

I saw Alcestis last weekend at PSU -- I'd always seen the show outdoors, before. I was amazed at how intimate the experience was, and how well it worked in the new space.

The acoustics are perfect, and the music was fantastic. Wow. And as to eye candy, Melissa Whitney in that skimpy gold thing -- great bonus that she can act, too!

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear.