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This article by Simon Saltzman
was prepared for the March 13, 2002 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
On Broadway: `Metamorphoses’
Last year, U.S. 1 critic Simon Saltzman and audiences gave
to Mary Zimmerman’s production of "Metamorphoses" when it
opened Off-Broadway on October 9. Extended twice, the show ran until
December 30, and it has now been moved to an even more brilliant
at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theater. Below is Saltzman’s
review, originally published on October 31, 2001.
Mary Zimmerman, the Chicago-based director whose work
is notable for its imagination, originality, and exotic subjects,
has created another jewel, this time derived from Ovid’s collection
of mythological stories.
Dreamlike and fantastical, "Metamorphoses," is set in and
around a 30-foot lustrous pool — the amniotic fluid of human
dreams, and fears. Its dark waters shimmer in the glow of T.J.
luminous lighting designs. And although we see heavenly clouds
behind the action, where gods gather overhead, in Daniel Ostling’s
abstract setting, it is through a mere shabby urban doorway that most
of these noble personages are afforded their entrances and exits.
As she did so cleverly with her memorable production of "The
(which opened McCarter Theater’s fall 2000 season), Zimmerman has
laced these ancient, fantastical stories of gods and their
in the lives of mortals with a sparkling contemporary wit.
While Zimmerman’s vision is played out in varying ritualistic and
formalized styles, her text flirting with both flights of heavenly
poetry and more common and earthy prose, there is always a
contemporary edge superimposed upon the stories. These are played
out in waters both tranquil and turbulent. Notwithstanding a violent
storm at sea, or a sustained underwater action, the actors always
emerge and submerge ready to carry on their daunting and diverting
assignments. More than an aquacade of myths, "Metamorphoses"
weaves its dramatic magic from the moment King Midas (Raymond Fox)
goes off on his quest to undo the curse of his golden touch. The need
we have to resolve our relationships with those we have loved and
lost, and for undoing the wrongs we have done to those we love, are
among the notable themes in this episodic tapestry.
One of the most compelling of these ancient tales finds us
on a psycho-analytical session between a young spoiled teen Phaeton
(Doug Hara) and his pool-side therapist (Lisa Tejero). Wearing
and yellow swimming trunks and paddling about in his yellow inflatable
raft, Phaeton tries to make sense of his relationship with his
father, the sun god Apollo.
While many of the stories reveal the power of love and sorrow to
us, they also serve to remind us how, when tragedies occur, there
are extraordinary powers constantly conspiring to test our mettle
and our wings. The tale of Alcyon (Louise Lamson) and Ceyx, lovers
separated by fate but reunited as sea birds after death, is a moving
tale of metamorphosis through love. Notable is the twice-told tale
of Orpheus and Eurydice (Erik Lochtefeld and Mariann Mayberry). An
initial telling of the story in its traditional form, as one of
longing, is followed by the far more nuanced and compelling thoughts
on the myth created by poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
Among "Metamorphoses" more unsettling passages is the tale
of a father who unwittingly commits incest when his daughter, Myrrha
(Anjali Bhimani), is tricked by the gods. Trickery by the gods is
common in these tales. In its most luminous moment, Hermes (Kyle Hall)
and Zeus come to earth disguised as beggars, turned away by the
our fate is redeemed by two humble peasants.
The 10-member cast, most of them long-time members of the Zimmerman
ensemble and familiar to Princeton viewers of "The Odyssey,"
are all exemplars of the director’s sometimes cute, but more often
dazzling, directorial conceits. Many of these conceits are contained
in costumer Mara Blumenfeld’s ravishing and rib-tickling apparel.
While Zimmerman credits Freud, Jung, and James Hillman for part of
her text, we can credit Zimmerman for finding a way to bridge two
worlds, by honoring the ancient while embracing the modern,
the present by the looking at the past. "Metamorphoses" is
story theater at its finest and most engaging, especially appropriate
in the unsettling world we have recently inherited. Four stars. Don’t
— Simon Saltzman
at 50th Street, New York. $30 to $75. Tele-Charge at 800-432-7250
has auditions on Wednesday and Thursday, March 13 and 14, for
roles in its mainstage production, "Public Ghosts, Private
the culmination of a three-year New Brunswick Community Bridge
The new play is based on people and events that have shaped the
over the past 180 years. Seeking to cast Mr. Coriel, a Caucasian man
35 to 55 years old; Hammond, an young African-American man, 18 to
25 years old; Maria, a young Mexican woman, 16 to 25 years old; and
Miguel, a young Mexican man, 18 to 25. For appointment, call the
hotline at 732-846-2895, ext. 206.
of all backgrounds, ages 8 to 12, who can sing, dance, and act to
play the African lion cubs, Simba and Nala, in the Broadway and future
productions of "The Lion King." Auditions take place at the
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC, 1 Center Street, Newark),
on Saturday, March 16. Come to learn the last verse of "I Just
Can’t Wait To Be King" and be prepared to move and dance. Bring
a current photo or snapshot stapled to a resume. Children must be
accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. March 16 sign-in
begins at 9:30 a.m.; auditions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. No sign-ins
after 11 a.m. For directions only: 888-466-5722; Casting Information
Contest for children ages five to twelve. Written copies and cassette
recording must be submitted with a $5 processing fee to Voices
Contest, Box 404, Pennington 08534. Deadline is Monday, April 1. Call
innovative art in all media and located in the Stockham Arts Building,
10 Pennsylvania Avenue, Morrisville, is seeking artists for June
has a screenwriting competition for established and emerging
talent in the Delaware Valley (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and
Hollywood screenwriters Mark Rosenthal and Stephen Susco, both with
Bucks County roots, are the final round judges. First prize $1,000
and use of the Writers Room for one year. Cat Hebert is competition
coordinator. Entry fee is $30 per screenplay. Deadline: Submissions
must be postmarked no later than May 1. Contest guidelines at
2002, at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, June 21 to 23.
Work 1/2 day or more and receive free admission for the entire weekend
($70 pass). Call Fran DePalma-Iozzi, 973-226-6043.
with wild birds and animals who become injured, ill, or displaced.
Training provided. Orientations are given Saturday, April 6, and
April 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the center on Route 29, south
of Lambertville. Call Kathy Coffey at 609-219-0090 or e-mail
in both patient and non-patient contact areas. Junior Volunteers for
the summer program for teens over 14 years old are also needed. Call
Lynne Kluin at 609-394-6690.
with mailings, health fair, and in the office. Call 609-252-2005.
Waltz, and Latin dancing taught by Candace Woodward-Clough begins
Thursday, April 11, at 112 Etra Road in Hightstown. $110 per couple.
Preregister at 609-443-8990.
and crafts programs including puppetry, jewelry, and needlework. Call
609-497-2100 ext. 317.
tour of "Sopranoland" in Secaucus on Saturday, April 6. They
will meet actor Chris Lucas, learn about life on the set and Soprano
trivia. About two dozen sites from the television series will be seen.
Reservations by Tuesday, March 19. $82 includes bus, tour, lunch,
and gratuities. Call 215-862-3619.
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