What happens when the classic Greek myth of pride and redemption is transplanted into the rich world of post-Civil War Louisiana? The gods Athena and Hermes are transformed into an African conjure woman and a spirit-cat. Andromeda is a tomboy. And Perseus' shield is a washboard.
Perseus Bayou explores Percy's quest to find the snake-headed Medusa in order lop off her head and keep his boastful word to Polydectes, all performed with the Cajun-inspired music of the swamplands. The musical infuses storytelling with puppetry and dance, and, as in the Greek myth, follows Percy on his path to becoming a hero as he learns to fight the prevailing greed and chaos, and falls in love along the way.
Making his debut at Imagination Stage as Perseus is Tyler Herman. Tyler, a former student of Imagination Stage, has recently performed in Mary Stuart (Washington Shakespeare Company), The Importance of Being Ernest (SCENA Theatre), and The Pull of Negative Gravity (Welders Theatre). Playing his spirit guides are Shaunté Tabb as Athena and Matthew Schleigh as Hermes. Shaunté was last seen at Imagination Stage in the Be Immortal Gala concert last fall. She was selected Broadway World's Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance in Once on This Island (Winter's Lane Productions). Matthew returns to Imagination Stage, having performed in Looking for Roberto Clemente. Area credits include appearances with Toby's, Everyman Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, and Folger Theatre.
Casie Platt, who most recently appeared at Imagination Stage in the title role of June B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, returns as Andromeda. Additional credits include performances at Ford's Thetare, The Hub Theatre, Forum Theatre, Signature Theatre, and Catalyst Theatre. Rounding out the Perseus Bayou cast are Evan Casey (Polydectes/Acrisius), Ricardo Evans (Doucet/Beaucepheus), Kristen Jepperson (Cassie/Medusa), and Lauren Shmalo (Danae).
Mary Hall Surface returns to Imagination Stage to direct Perseus Bayou. Surface wrote the book and co-wrote the lyrics with David Maddox, who composed the score. The two have also written Sing Down the Moon, Mississippi Pinocchio, and Lift: Icarus and Me, all of which, along with Perseus Bayou, have been nominated for the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play. Surface's The Hundred Dresses and The Sorcerer's Apprentice have played at Imagination Stage in prior seasons.
The creative team for Perseus Bayou includes Musical Director George Fulginiti Shakar, Choreographer Ingrid Zimmer, Fight Choreographer Lorraine Ressegger-Slone, Scenic Designer Tony Cisek, Lighting Designer Dan Covey, Costume Designer Brandon McWilliams, Sound Designer Christopher Baine, Stage Manager Kristen J. Bishel, Associate Scenic Designer Hannah Crowell, and Associate Lighting Designer Andrew Cissna.
Perseus Bayou premiered at the Theatre for the First Amendment in 2001, garnering the 2002 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Director of a Resident Musical for Surface, as well as four other nominations. The soundtrack for the musical was also awarded a Parents' Choice Award in 2002 for its colourful Cajun musical interpretation of the Greek tale.
Perseus Bayou closes March 13 in the Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Theatre. Tickets are $10 to $22, and may be purchased online atwww.imaginationstage.org, at the Imagination Stage box office, or via phone at (301) 280-1660. Group rates are available. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.