Metamorphoses: “Unexpected and mind-blowing”

Mason theater has a history of outdoing itself. For the past few years, the program has produced hit after hit. Last fall’s Urinetown was witty and dark, last spring’s Lunch was high-spirited and dynamic, and this fall’s Spamalot was absolutely ridiculous and had the whole auditorium cracking up. Though all have been comedies, these shows have displayed the breadth of ability of the theater department–with each show, the audience was left confident for the next. Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, an audience waited expectantly for yet another Mason production: Metamorphoses. And as sophomore Ciara Curtin put it, “the show was unexpected. It was mind blowing.”

Students argue while preparing for Metamorphases

Click here to view more scenes from the spring 2018 play “Metamorphases”

Metamorphoses is an adaptation of Ovid’s myths, written by American playwright Mary Zimmerman. The show is short, just 85 minutes, and is divided into vignettes (short scenes, all based around a theme). By the direction of Mr. Shawn Northrip, Mason’s performance of Metamorphoses was a poignant and haunting drama, diverging from the comedies that audiences have known and loved. Many different actors were featured as leads in their own respective scenes, each bringing to life characters of tremendous depth.

The show’s vignette format, through each scene’s brevity and individuality, provided an opportunity for extensive attention to detail and experimentation. Junior Miles Jackson, who played Erysichthon, Apollo, and Philemon, explained the opportunities a vignettes show provided: “We were able to learn the show quickly, and then Mr. Northrip wanted us to try new things and keep experimenting so we could build those moments.”

The time and effort each actor put into mastering their characters was evident. Jackson’s portrayal of Erysichthon, a man stricken with hunger, was powerful and frankly, sickening. Senior Megan Hayes’s performance of Alcyone, an anguished widow, was moving. Phaeton, a story led by seniors Michael Curtin and Dede Colbert, was clever and convincing. The range of emotions in these scenes spoke to the wide scope of talents each actor had to offer.

As is every spring play, Metamorphoses was the final show for this year’s seniors, without whom it is hard to imagine another Mason production. But the show, while a bitter farewell to many, was also a first glance at the rising stars of Mason theater. Many myths introduced leads new to the spotlight. Freshman Kevin Hong and sophomore Zoe Cuniffe were featured in Pomona and Vertumnus, leaving the audience absolutely smitten. Freshman Emily Ives acted alongside Jackson in their haunting performance of Erysichthon. Interludes interwoven with these scenes shone light on even more talents like junior Meggie Ferguson. Such stunning performances left the audience optimistic about the theater program going forward.

Junior Sigrid Edson described her confidence for future productions: “Northrip knows his cast well and is great at picking a good show for the right group of people. Every shift in population of the theater department opens new opportunities.”

Along with remarkable acting all across the board, Metamorphoses was an impressive feat of the musicians and stage crew. Senior Ben Salak did all of the light design, putting together color schemes that emphasized the mood of each scene. The score was written by seniors Adam Hinden and Nick Fellows and performed by Hinden, Fellows, and Tenzin Namgyel.

The show was also an ambitious choice in regards to the difficulties it posed for the stage crew. The production was centered around a pool at the front of the stage, water and all. Stage crew member Shealynn Gillaspy explained the challenge with this: “The main issue with having a pool is that water doesn’t stay in the pool, it’s everywhere. And we have microphones and lights so that the actors can be heard and seen, and it is dangerous to have water around big equipment like that.”

But these technical challenges that the stage crew had to overcome were unnoticeable. The pool seemed a natural addition to the stage, utilized often but not overdone, and the sound and lights work was completely flawless from an audience perspective.

Altogether, Metamorphoses was carefully crafted and stunningly performed. In its step away from the hit comedies Mason has produced in the past, the show was ambitious, but as they somehow always seem to do, Mr. Northrip, the cast, and the crew delivered. The theater program has outdone itself once again.

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