No one ever said growing up was
easy. But apparently this maxim is not limited to us mere mortals. Even the
Greek Gods of Mount Olympus aren’t immune to the struggles of blossoming into
adulthood, finding one’s way and one’s own self, and even breaking a few hearts
along the way – even if it is that of someone who brought us into this very
precious gift of Earthly existence. Mythic
is a stadium-filling, bombastic, glorious guitar riff of a re-imagining of
the tale of Persephone; Greek goddess, distracted rebel – torn by lustful
yearnings, forbidden fruit, and enough hedonism to fill the Colosseum in
Ancient Rome. And it’s making its North American debut at Montreal’s venerated Segal Centre.
Julia McLellan brings Persephone to slightly lascivious life, the latter having been raised by Demeter – her sophisticated single mom – endearingly portrayed by Heather McGuigan. Demeter has impressively crossed every “t,” dotted every “i,” exercised precaution after precaution to shield her daughter from the self-obsessed, histrionic ways of the other gods. But even deities of the maternal variety cannot perform an uninterrupted string of flawless miracles. Children often seek to find their own path, and Persephone feels drawn in by the Underworld, and also just happens to fall for the Danny Zuko/James Dean-type god of the place, Hades (the talented James Daly oozing suave bravado posturing in the role).
But Persephone has more to do than be swept up in the dangerous bedroom eyes of the taboo paramour Hades; she develops complicated relationships with the astonishing Aphrodite (thrust into the Goddess of Love role by the powerhouse passion of the always-exuberant Jessica Gallant), and even becomes acquainted with the man who gave her life on Olympus, the irrepressible almost cult leader-like Zeus (delivered with zeal and sublime self-assuredness by the winning charisma and commanding stage presence of Aadin Church).
This production had left such an indelible impression on Segal Centre Artistic and Executive Director Lisa Rubin from the moment she laid eyes on it, that she couldn’t be more thrilled to deliver this power-packed and awe-inspiring new slice of musical theatre to the Centre. The music is infectious and captivating, to be sure, but the music is also strewn with a message; and an empowering message at that: live your life to the fullest and do what feels right to you, all the while never forgetting from whence you came.
Theatergoers have the good fortune of being treated to Brian Hill’s masterful directing and the tunes of the delectable lyricist/composer duo of Marcus Stevens and Oran Eldor, whose abilities help the sizzling story leap from the page to the stage. The incredible dance routines and pageantry couldn’t have been helmed by someone with a sharper pedigree than X-Factor Israel and Eurovision choreographer Avihai Haham. A blistering band led by the multitalented Nick Burgess keeps things lively – to put it mildly – as Persephone finds her wings and ruffles some feathers along the way. Olivier Landreville works mythical magic with set design, and lighting designer Martin Sirois helps foster the Mount Olympus/pseudo-Studio 54 vibe with unabashed pomp and flash. Costume designer Louise Bourret helps straddle the fashion line between self-indulgent paparazzi culture-inspired narcissism and what lies behind it and inside those who personify and practice it.
If you come for the story, you’ll stay for the moving musical numbers; like actor Daly’s inspiring – at times haunting – romantic guitar ballad Beauty in the Darkness; or McGuigan’s take on Demeter’s timeless maternal lament, What Mothers Have to Do. This production has already garnered so much buzz and critical acclaim, its run has been officially extended for a full week until November 24 at the Segal and seems destined for the stage stratosphere.
Climb Mount Olympus with cares to the wind, unmitigated zest, an open mind, a fully tuned air guitar and some hiking shoes fit for the gods – playing with Mythic fervour at the Segal Centre’s Sylvan Adams Theatre until November 24th. Visit segalcentre.org for more information or call the box office at (514) 739-7944.