PSYCHE A Modern Rock Opera
Are there any theatregoer slash cooks out there? You may understand where I’m coming from. Are there are times when you see a new recipe that looks really fantastic, the list of ingredients are interesting and intriguing and you are sure when you put them together and watch the oven carefully, the dish will be magic? And then it isn’t? It just isn’t? Well…
The world premiere of PSYCHE: A Modern Rock Opera has officially launched at the Greenway Court Theatre. Let me tell you, the recipe looks delicious. Cindy Shapiro is the lady behind the book, music, and lyrics of this opera (modern rock opera, that is) and after a three-month artist in residency in Paris from where she drew daily inspiration, she assembled her dream team to make it happen. She got Ovation Award-winner Michael Matthews in the director’s seat and Jack Wall behind the music direction. Janet Roston was placed in the Choreographer role.
She (and surely her team) really did it all. An indiegogo campaign was launched in December 2012 to raise the funds to do it right. A great set and costumes are important and don’t come cheap. A casting director was brought on to find the right cast; every detail covered; Facebook and Twitter pages were made; a gorgeous website created. Passion for the project is everywhere…and I didn’t love it.
A rock opera is “modern” by definition, I guess. But this is a fairly traditional love story. Human Psyche (Ashley Ruth Jones) and the god Eros (Michael Starr) fall in love. Mom of Eros, Aphrodite (Laura L. Thomas) and Psyche’s evil sisters (Benai Boud and Cindy Sciacca) are jealous and do all kinds of crazy things to tear them apart. Psyche is forced to summon her courage and fight through many a challenge to be with the one she loves. There was a lot of attention paid to the fact that the hero of the story, Psyche, was a GIRL! Hooray! I like plays, musicals, rock operas that have a strong female lead. But what’s so modern about a gal that has to face challenges to get what she wants, who ends up completely dependent on others around her to complete the challenges for her? That’s how this story goes. She completes the challenges given to her by the mean and evil Aphrodite by allowing others to complete them for her. It could be said that she uses her own kindness, beauty, and charm to win over the ones that come to her rescue, but it’s awfully strange to call that a modern concept.
There was a lot going on, on stage. The stage itself was a lot to look at. There was a decent-sized chorus assembled that were often times on stage all together. There was lots of dancing, lots of singing, some aerial moments, and super titles. I had a hard time discerning where my focus was to be. I was distracted by the aerial acts being performed by non-aerialists. I missed some of the cheeky super titles trying to figure out who was singing. I missed opportunities to applaud because I was reading the super titles. I missed plot points because I couldn’t hear lyrics. I missed what was happening on stage because I was reading about the plot points I missed in the note section in the program, in the dark. I’m never a big fan of having to read scene by scene what I should be able to watch and understand on stage, in the program. Even Shakespeare, when done well, doesn’t need to spell out the plot points.
This show isn’t even close to a disaster. The cast had a lot of talent… it would have been better to keep them all in the realm where their talents lie, ie. Singers should sing and dancers should dance and no aerial acts should happen without aerialists. But that’s a problem of any musical everywhere. Some of the songs were great. I can totally imagine teen girls (or anyone, really) belting them out while listening to them on their iPod. The production value was good. No corners cut here. The production used live musicians, thank goodness. The blood, sweat, and tears that must have been shed over mounting this production has my complete and total respect.
In theory, this is my kind of show–it’s my kind of story. The recipe seems right. But I didn’t love the show, and that’s ok. I love theatre and I believe new theatre must continue to be made. The passion can’t fizzle. The world needs theatre to be a better, richer place. My hat is off to the folks in and behind this production.
So, I’ll leave it at this: There are many reasons to go to the theatre. Occasionally it is simply to show support. Consider buying a ticket and placing your body in the seat in support. It won’t change your life, but it may in a small way may continue to encourage the attempt of new life-changing theatre… and that’s certainly worth a few bucks and hours.
PSYCHE: A Modern Rock Opera
Greenway Court Theatre
544 N. Fairfax Ave. Hollywood
Through Sept 28
Tickets: $34.99/check discount websites