Odyssey Kicks Off in Central Park Tonight, Starring Tony Winner Karen Olivo

News   Odyssey Kicks Off in Central Park Tonight, Starring Tony Winner Karen Olivo
 
The Public Theater debuts its musical adaption of Homer's "The Odyssey" Sept. 4, conceived and directed by Lear deBessonet, with music, lyrics and book by Todd Almond (Iowa, Stage Kiss).

The show, which runs for four nights only at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, features Brandon Victor Dixon as Odysseus and In The Heights star and West Side Story Tony winner Karen Olivo as Penelope.

Olivo's Broadway credits also include Brooklyn and Rent, while Dixon originated the role of Berry Gordy in Broadway's Motown the Musical and appeared in The Color Purple, earning a Tony Award nomination.

The cast also features Almond, Andy Grotelueschen as the Cyclops; and Lucas Caleb Rooney as Antinous, along with cameo group performances by The Bobby Lewis Ensemble; The D.R.E.A.M. Ring; Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana II; The Marching Cobras; The New York Youth Symphony; TADA! Youth Theater and NYC bikers from Old Bones, N.Y.C. Fire Riders and MLC Crew Riding Club.

Karen Olivo and cast in <i>West Side Story</i>
Karen Olivo and cast in West Side Story Photo by Joan Marcus

The Odyssey, running through Sept. 7, reimagines the Greek epic into a "larger than life musical" with Almond and deBessonet's signature blend of joyful dance and musical numbers; as stated in press notes: "Man-eating Cyclops, a sorceress that turns sailors to beasts, and the deadly sweet song of the Sirens explode onto the stage."

Long-time collaborators Almond and deBessonet reunite again after working together on earlier free Public Works productions, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest. Now in its third year, Public Works annually creates shows of participatory theatre in partnership with community organizations from all five boroughs of New York City. The concept is inspired by the 1900's movement of civic pageantry, known for blending mass spectacle with community engagement. This year's organizations are the Children’s Aid Society, DreamYard Project, Fortune Society, Brownsville Recreation Center and Domestic Workers United. "For the last two summers, Lear deBessonet and Todd Almond have given us euphoric, magical re-workings of Shakespeare's late romances. This year, they are reaching back to the first great Western writer, Homer. Their version of The Odyssey is a thrilling and visionary journey home, for Odysseus and for us," said artistic director Oskar Eustis in an earlier press statement.

Written sometime in the 8th century BC, Homer's "The Odyssey" is one of the oldest surviving pieces of Western literature. It tells the story of the Greek war hero Ulysses' return home after the Trojan War, which covers ten years of wandering after he becomes lost in the Mediterranean sea.

Free tickets to The Odyssey will be distributed, two per person, at noon on the day of the show at the Delacorte Theater and via the Virtual Ticketing lottery at PublicTheater.

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