Metamorphoses, presented by Stagecrafters at the Baldwin Theatre, Royal Oak MI

Reviewed by Suzanne and Greg Angeo

 

Photos by Lance Luce

A Wet and Wild “Metamorphoses” Transforms the Baldwin’s 2nd Stage

Josh Allor (Apollo), Matthew Rindfleisch (Phaeton, in pool), Katelyn O’Neill (Psychiatrist)

Walk up two flights from the Baldwin Theater lobby and you’re treated to a bizarre sight: a stage-sized swimming pool surrounded by wooden walkways, and a chandelier overhead. This is your first clue that it’s not going to be your typical evening at the theatre.

Presented by the Stagecrafters at Baldwin’s intimate 2nd Stage, “Metamorphoses” unfolds at water’s edge in a series of eleven short, vibrantly-textured vignettes that present ancient Greek and Roman myths in modern contexts, and in the most surprising ways. Midas, Bacchus, Apollo, Psyche, Orpheus, Aphrodite – all take their turns on the stage in a production that is lively, funny, provocative and, at times, profound.

“Metamorphoses” is a 1996 play based on the classic epic poem of the same name by the Roman poet Ovid, who lived more than 2000 years ago. You might say it’s is an ambitious work – it tells the history of the world as told by the gods. The poem, all 15 volumes of it, is considered the most influential piece of literature in the Western world.

Cassie Najor

According to playwright Mary Zimmerman, “These myths have a redemptive power in that they are so ancient. There’s a comfort in the familiarity of the human condition.” She set the play around a pool of water that represents the origin of life and civilization, dreams and the subconscious, eternal but transformative, and declares “Myths are the earliest form of science”. Zimmerman’s play compresses the essence of Ovid’s work into a brisk, 90-minute presentation with no intermission, and won several Tony awards.

The watery vignettes depict tempests, shipwrecks, crossing the river Styx into the Underworld, incest, gods visiting in disguise, unrequited love and tragic loss. You’ll see Midas in a tacky suit that must have been rescued from the 1980s, and the son of Apollo lounging in a floating pool chair while talking to his therapist. You’ll learn the lovely, haunting origin of the phrase Halcyon Days, and truly get the meaning of “Be careful what you wish for”.

Between scenes, members of the cast emerge with mops after all that splashing. There’s an undeniable slip hazard for the actors, but you’d never know it by their fluid, natural movements in and out of the water.

Nyla Addis

The pleasing ensemble cast is made up of ten actors, and they tell their stories well. But while some possess classic stage presence and voices, most of the others have a more conventional delivery that could make less of a dramatic impact in a larger venue, although it works in the intimate space of the 2nd Stage’s “black box”. Each actor plays multiple roles, with standouts including Josh Allor, Rachel Biber, Cassie Najor and Brian Tuscany.

Director Jody Florkowski was so dedicated to presenting this show that he spent several years convincing the theatre committee, and another year with Dan Rose and his crew designing and building the set for a show that runs only two weekends. Original music by Willy Schwartz combines with the likes of Mozart for a fresh approach to scene transitions and during pivotal moments onstage.

Stagecrafters’ production of “Metamorphoses” is a commendable expression of the beauty and power of Zimmerman’s transformative work. It makes for a great evening and is sure to inspire lively discussion afterwards. Note: If you’re going, and get a seat in the front row, you may want to bring a raincoat.

Metamorphoses Cast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When: Now through April 22, 2018

8:00 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays

2:00 p.m. Sundays

*NO LATE SEATING FOR THIS SHOW*

*PLEASE CALL AHEAD IF YOU ARE A WHEELCHAIR USER*  

Tickets $20 for all seats

Where: Baldwin Theatre, 2nd Stage (upstairs)

415 S. Lafayette

Royal Oak, MI 48067

(248) 541-6430

www.stagecrafters.org

About the Author

Suzanne AngeoGreg and Suzanne Angeo have been reviewing live theatre as a team since 2010. Greg has over 50 years of professional theatrical training and acting experience in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and New York City. For several years, beginning in 2000, he served as Assistant Artistic Director for the Dominican Players at Dominican University in San Rafael, CA, with Artistic Director Dr. Annette Lust. Suzanne has been writing for most of her life, including essays and articles while serving as newsletter editor for county organizations. She was involved in community theatre, and served on playreading committees and as a script doctor for a number of productions. Suzanne and Greg were members of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle for several years before moving to Michigan, where they continue to review live theatre. Suzanne is currently a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.View all posts by Suzanne Angeo →