Goddesses, Titans, Warriors, Minions & Deities-in-Training - their Message Comes Through Loud & Clear
“Poseidon's stolen trident. The wrath of Zeus. And Aphrodite emerging as the hero…”
This tantalizing summary from the program notes of the original musical “Olympus” delivered all this excitement and more. And several of Vershire’s young thespians helped to bring the magic and myth to life in this year’s production from Torsti Rovainen’s Inspiration Theater Camp with performances August 11 and 12.
Whether new to the stage or just coming off a Shakespeare performance in Tunbridge, these student actors carried out their roles with great enthusiasm and creativity. In fact, the roles suited the actors so well because the highly adaptable Torsti writes his musicals with these exact kids in mind. He casts in May in order to be able to tweak the parts to fit the actors who want to participate in the theater camp that summer. Yes, these musicals based on well-known mythological stories are original, all written by Torsti, from the spoken lines to the orchestral arrangements of his original songs.
Here are some thoughts, from the participants hailing from Vershire, about their theatrical experiences.
Tovahn’s main roles were Hades and Poseidon. He really enjoyed the lord of the underworld, “Hades - the way he acts, getting to be all dark and proud was fun.” But then, “Poseidon can command water and make water do weird stuff and talk to sea animals.” That’s pretty cool. But then again, “Hades can shapeshift.” It’s a good thing he got to portray one character in one performance and the other in the next. He also liked “being able to transform yourself into someone you aren’t and get to be that person.” He added that “Zeus would be really fun to play.”
Alice played multiple roles in the production, including Menoetius the Titan, a student Olympian training to be a god, and Enyo, one of the Graeae. I asked her what life is like, now that you’ve been a god. Alice replied, “You know the personality you’re supposed to be, and you go back and you’re like ‘whoa, was I really that person?’ - going back to who you were after being all these people.”
Her favorite part was playing one of The Graeae. “It was really fun. We got to be the triplets and we got to act like old women. They were kind of the old tricksters and advisors. There was this young Olympian named Hero who was going to steal Poseidon's trident and he went to The Graeae to ask for advice. They’re kind of tricksters so some of it’s good advice and some of it’s not. They’re just silly, I guess. I guess they were born to be tricksters, lead people into traps. He took their advice and actually ended up getting the trident.”
Liba said her favorite part was being the snake in the Graeae. “It was really fun! Torsti taught me a lot, taught me some songs, what to do.” I asked her what was hard, and she replied, “to wait back stage because we had to find out what scene we were next in.” She was also a student god, an Olympian, an undersea creature, a minion in Hades - regarding which she said of Tovahn, “my brother ruled me! It was funny!”
Being part of this theater camp changed Liba, she said, because she used to be always, “up and about, and now half of me is down, quiet, calm. Just being backstage and having to be quiet and not move around too much ... even while we’re practicing during songs, being silent and still. I had a little bit of it, but now I have half of me that way.” That’s a huge accomplishment, Liba.
Lila played an exuberant Mercury. She loved the role because “it’s energetic!” I would say it suited her perfectly. I could almost see her winged heels lift her off the stage as she made her entrance.
Carter played a student Olympian as well as other chorus roles, bravely appearing at the very front of the stage in many musical numbers.
In the end, their heroic efforts onstage resulted in a war averted, a forced marriage abandoned for a surprizing partnership, a mother and daughter reunited, health and fertility returned to the land, and respect restored to the peaceful Goddess of Love. Not bad considering the state of things today. I think these kids are ready to rule the world.
Huge thanks to Rob Rinaldi for these fantastic photos!!!
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