Olympus! Rutherford County Arts Production on stage at 7 p.m. today
FOREST CITY — Rutherford County Arts Council and Rutherford County Schools are presenting Olympus! at the Foundation Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. today at the Foundation, Isothermal Community College.
Olympus is a musical play, written by Diane McEnnerney, which follows the misadventures of Zeus, Apollo, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, and numerous other Greek gods and goddesses as they involve themselves, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, in the affairs of various mortals. Tales include “Pygmalion,” “Arion and the Prize,” and “Jason and Quest for the Golden Fleece.” The play will feature a cast of hundreds of local actors and actresses, including a chorus of 200 students from the Playing for Keeps after school program. Beautiful songs and dances, lavish costumes, and a live musical ensemble, make this a show the whole family will enjoy.
In addition to its enormous cast, Olympus! offers another interesting feature––staging and music based on the ancient Greek. Diane McEnnerney, in dramatizing the various myths and stories, decided to use groups of actors, known as the Chorus, to narrate and comment on the action of the play, just as was the practice in ancient Greek drama. For these narrative sections, she composed chants based on the seven Greek modes, which are basically musical scales with differing patterns of intervals. For example, the Ionian mode is known today as the major scale, and the Aeolian mode is now known as the natural minor scale. The other five modes are not so commonly used, though our use of accidentals often gives us the flavor or some of these. These chants are sung in unison and accompanied by harp and flute, which would have been very common at the time. McEnnerney also based one of the extended songs on a manuscript fragment known as the 1st Delphic Hymn, which was written around 138 B.C. in the Phrygian mode. It features a haunting melody in 5/4 time and is sung by Hera appearing to Medea in a dream. McEnnerney, explaining her use of these techniques, said, “I believe this ancient tune and the unusual sounding chants bring the past to life in a vibrant way that only music can do so well.”
Tickets are now available at the Foundation box office, www.foundationshows.org or call 286-9990