Few myths have been adapted more often than that of Orpheus and Eurydice. Versions have ranged from the Camus film Black Orpheus to Craig Lucas' Orpheus In Love to the second act of Graciela Daniele's Dangerous Games.
Coming to Rochester, NY's Geva Theatre is another version of the myth, titled Famous Orpheus.
This world premiere, starting previews May 26 for a May 30 opening, will be scripted by black playwright OyamO and directed by Geva artistic director Mark Cuddy. Garth Fagan, who staged the dances for Broadway's Lion King, will choreograph, utilizing the performers of Garth Fagan Dance.
Famous Orpheus resembles the Camus film in that both are set within a swirling, colorful, dance-filled Carnival. (Black Orpheus was shot in Rio; Famous Orpheus occurs in the Caribbean.) The story still follows the Greek myth: a young musician falls deeply for a woman and journeys to the underworld to save her.
Says OyamO, "It's a simple story...about a man who falls so deeply in love that he tries to do the impossible. How many people do we know who fall in love this way." Other works by OyamO include I Am A Man. "I wanted to approach this project with a pioneer spirit," added director Cuddy, "that forged new artistic ground." Before Geva, Cuddy served as artistic director of Sacramento Theatre Company for seven seasons.
Starring in the piece are Evan Dexter Parke and Eisa Davis, alongside Ron Bobb-Semple, Eisa Davis, Harret D. Foy, Adrienne Hurd and Bob Devin Jones. Designing Orpheus are Brian Aldous (lighting), Loyce Arthur (costumes) and Deb Both (sets). Carlos Valdez serves as musical director.
In other Geva news, Timothy J. Shields, Geva Theatre's managing director for the last six years, has announced he will be leaving the Rochester, NY, company this coming July. Shields will be jumping to Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, where he will serve in the same capacity.
Under Shield's guidance, Geva's subscriber base increased 35 percent and the company enjoyed three consecutive years of operating surpluses. His tenure at Geva was capped by a still-in-progress $4 million fund-raising campaign which coincided with the company's 25th anniversary (nearly $3 million has been raised so far). The money will enable the theatre to complete the purchase and renovation of its downtown Rochester home at 75 Woodbury Boulevard, as well as build a second stage and retire its deficit.
Prior to his stay at Geva, Shields spent 10 years at Princeton's McCarter Theatre, where he served in a number of positions, including General Manager.
A search committee has been formed to find a new managing director and hopes to find a successor within four months.
For tickets ($7.50-$40) and information on Famous Orpheus at Geva, 75 Woodbury Blvd. in Rochester, call (716) 232-GEVA.