The Odyssey
at South Carroll

Reviewed on November 8, 2014

Dragon Radio
Glenelg Country
The Tribruin
The Gateway

Lizzy Dixon

Submitted for publication to Dragon Radio

Suitors and sailors and sirens, oh my! The South Carroll Stagelighters' production of "The Odyssey" embodies the classic tale and takes the audience on a whirlwind so epic, Aeolus would be proud.

"The Odyssey" (adapted by Thomas Hischak) is based on Homer's celebrated epic poem by the same name. The saga follows the homesick Odysseus and his heedless sailors on their trek through the treacherous Aegean Sea, as narrated by a cloaked Stranger. Concurrently, in Odysseus' homeland of Ithaca, his wife and son hold a legion of boorish suitors at bay, anxiously anticipating Odysseus' return. Ultimately, this array of unfortunate ordeals culminates in a joyous reunion between a father and his family. "The Odyssey" has been translated into a myriad of languages and has even been re-imagined as an Emmy-Award winning television series. Additionally, a staged version of the well-read epic was performed at The Theater at St. Clements in 2002.

South Carroll's production would not have been as successful without the production team's attention to detail. This meticulousness in all aspects lent greatly to the show's believablity. The minimalistic set design conveyed the setting without overpowering the other elements of the show.

Marissa Mowers' strong voice carried throughout the theater, creating an empyreal Athena even when she was not onstage. She managed to convey emotions while maintaining her celestial radiance. Federico Alvarado (Stranger) also utilized his sonorous voice to inject emotion into his narrative lines. Tori Prestianni and William Babin displayed exceptional chemistry as Penelope and Odysseus, respectively. Prestianni maintained regal composure and authentic facial expressions throughout the show, never breaking character even during the long stretches of time during which she had no lines. Babin showcased his character's development in a subtle yet effectual manner and even exhibited his impressive archery skills toward the end of the show.

Lorin Loftus (Nurse) remained constant in her character choices throughout the show. Her movements were intentional and although she utilized a character voice, she could still be understood. Jacob Miller as Telemachus held his own against the rowdy suitor ensemble and exhibited heartwarmingly lifelike affection for his parents. Each of the ensembles added to the personality of the show. The handmaidens displayed notable versatility, remaining practically constant from scene to scene. The suitor ensemble added to the humor of the show, improving at times. It was evident that each suitor had a distinct personality. The sailor ensemble's synchronization when pantomiming rowing was impressive and visually pleasing, as was the emotion they showed even in the absence of lines.

The lighting transported the audience and created a palpable separation between the scenes that were synchronous. Although the sets were minimalistic, nothing was lost visually because of the captivating use of light. The props were detailed and appeared well constructed. The gigantic Cyclops was an ambitious concept as were the hand-constructed Grecian chalices.

South Carroll High School's production of "The Odyssey" was admirably ambitious, refreshingly simplistic and sure to leave you tweeting "#ohmygodyssey".

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Erin Jack
Glenelg Country

Submitted for publication to The Tribruin

Kings and queens, storms and shipwrecks, a Cyclops and blinding battles, enchanting sirens and a sorceress, revenge and enduring love - no, this is not an action sequence in Hollywood's next blockbuster film, but instead, chronicle Odysseus's epic journey in South Carroll High School's production of "The Odyssey. "

"The Odyssey", written by Greek poet Homer in the 8th century BC as a sequel to his poem "The Iliad", tells the story of the Greek war hero Odysseus and his 10-year journey home after the Trojan War. Back in Ithaca, plotting suitors vie for the hand of his wife Penelope, but she and their son Telemachus remain ever hopeful of Odysseus's return. The entire tale is told in non-linear flashbacks by a mysterious stranger.

South Carroll High School presented this serious iconic work with intermittent comedic touches, making it enjoyable to the audience whilst maintaining the integrity of the Odyssey as Homer intended it.

The Stranger (Federico Alvarado), as the main storyteller, had a rich, commanding baritone voice that took focus throughout the entire show. Although he remained on the side of the stage for much of the show, he never faltered nor dropped character. Alvarado's strong presence aided in his recounting of Odysseus's journey, making him a clear standout. His portrayal of the relationship with his son, Telemachus (Jacob Miller), was truly heartwarming. In the role of Odysseus was William Babin, who was superb in showcasing Odysseus's bravery and honor, not to mention his skill with a bow and arrow.

A highlight of the show was the ensemble of Penelope's (Tori Prestianni) suitors, who fought for her through comical banter and petty fights. They could be heard ad-libbing irreverent comments throughout much of the show. The puppeteer team operating the Cyclops, Polyphemus, worked in unison to skillfully capture its movements particularly amusing was its belly-rubbing and face-wiping after it cannibalized a sailor.

Katie Dyson's lighting design was crucial in setting the scene. Dyson utilized colored lighting on the cyc to match descriptions given by the actors. When the sky was described as a beautiful sunset, she presented the audience with a watercolor effect of blues, greens, and pinks. The lighting also helped to intensify dramatic moments such as the death of the suitors, when she washed the stage in red. The clever set design by Nick Redding, Kristen Hamby, and Patrick McCardell, utilized multi-function stage pieces that transitioned easily from the palace's banquet hall to each tableau of Odysseus's journey - floor pillows in the hall depicted a fire scene when placed upright, and when reversed and assembled together, became the image of the Trojan Horse; tables in the hall were turned sideways to become the ship that carried the hero through his odyssey. There were intermittent microphone issues, but the adept performers did not allow their flow to be disrupted.

To quote Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, "some things in life are unavoidable," and a good time at South Carroll's "The Odyssey" is certainly one of those things.

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Devon Burke

Submitted for publication to The Gateway

He bamboozled a vicious Cyclops out of death, thwarted a transcendent beauty's plan to turn his crew to swine, maneuvered his ship through tumultuous waters, and returned home to the island of Ithaca, where his wife and son wait sanguinely. The legendary Odysseus challenges every catastrophe in South Carroll High School's production of "The Odyssey".

"The Odyssey," the epic famously written by the Greek poet Homer, reveals the harrowing travels of Odysseus and his crew, relaying their encounters with the mystical Circe, promiscuous Calypso, and enthralling sirens on their journey from Troy to Ithaca, where Odysseus reigns as king. Throughout Odysseus' quest, he receives succor from the sage goddess Athena while enduring the fiery (and often watery) wrath of Poseidon, god of the sea. Adapted for the stage by Thomas Hischak, this classic work of literature incorporates humor and accessibility, fitting for a high school production.

An outstanding element of this production was the original music composition and orchestration by Kristin Hamby. Adding immensely to the production with works reminiscent of celestial beings and heavenly Ancient Greek harp music as well as rumbling, grave tones to signify violence and war, the orchestration vivified the plot and sets expertly. A second notable mention resides with the eight foot tall puppet, manipulated by a group of performers and devised to animate the horrendous Cyclops that terrorizes Odysseus and his crew. This unexpected element had an uproarious effect on the audience; members guffawed throughout the entire scene in which the puppet was used.

The plot of this production is anchored by several distinct characters, enlivened remarkably by the actors playing them. William Babin (Odysseus) portrayed a valiant champion, commanding each scene with authority and fortitude. His expressions softened as the character, humbled by the astute teachings of Athena (Marissa Mowers), gained a newfound essence of humility, adding depth and dimension to the one-sided heroic archetype. Marissa Mowers loomed above the stage on a raised platform and delivered her lines with a resplendent opulence, thoroughly capturing the immaculate beacon that is Athena. Federico Alvarado (A Stranger) brought forth a reserved yet benevolent elderly newcomer with an enigmatic presence, a commendable addition to the production.

The lighting featured in this show was sensational. Designed by Katie Dyson, the lights shifted color and placement often, encompassing the audience in a whirlwind of placid waters and bizarre islands, concealed havens and lavish royal resting quarters.

Sailing through treacherous waters, combating ruthless monsters, encountering mesmerizing goddesses, and engaging in a battle of strength and wit to win the hand of the dazzling queen Penelope, the cast and crew of South Carroll High School embarked on an expedition that struck a balance between comical, gripping and enjoyable in "The Odyssey."

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