“A likeness to Hamilton comes to mind for the opening number, It’s A Myth, with its element of a sung/spoken narrative”
The relationship between mother and daughter can be quite a complicated one. Even more tricky to navigate when you are both immortal Gods. In new pop/rock musical Mythic by Marcus Stevens (book/lyrics) and Oran Eldor (music/orchestrations), this is just the case. A wittily-written, modern twist on thousand year old Greek myths, turns the Gods into rock stars, Hollywood royalty, It-girls and power-mad politicians – the type of celebrities that we are consumed by in the 21st-century. Mythic is a fun-filled, energetically infectious show that gives old tales a fresh retelling.
Demeter, Goddess of the Earth and harvest, has spent the last thousand years exiled from Olympus, where the other Gods hang out, due to having such boring, inadequate powers. Now, living mainly among mortals and her harvest nymphs, she has come to appreciate her life away from the party-going, drama-filled, celebrity culture of the Gods. Her daughter Persephone, however, doesn’t see it that way. She feels suffocated by boredom, living the life of a recluse. Spending her time reading magazines about the other Gods, she daydreams how the other half lives. She wants to find her own path. One day Persephone’s had enough and decides to gatecrash Zeus’ party on Mount Olympus. After bumping into party girl Aphrodite, she finds her way into the heart of the celebrations. It doesn’t take long before she has caught the eye of the bad boy of Gods, Hades, a misunderstood soul, who inadvertently traps her in the Underworld. Mythic turns into a tale of finding yourself, the endurance of a mother’s love, and inner courage that speaks to both ancient and modern times.
Georgie Westall as Persephone is certainly one to watch for the future, showing real personality yet truthfulness within her delivery. Much can be said the same for Daniella Bowen playing her mother Demeter, whose comic timing, particularly in the song What Mother’s Have to Do, comes across natural and unforced. Strong performances are executed from the whole cast. Even the ensemble are given individual moments to shine and stand out, which is rare.
A simple yet effective use of set and costumes, designed by Lee Newby, offers an amalgamation of ancient influences with modern-day edginess that helps to define the shows theme of reinvention.
The songs that feature definitely help to drive the story forward rather than bringing it to a halt. They aren’t the most memorable tunes in the world, but nevertheless, there most certainly isn’t any that seem weak, and it enables the cast to show off their belting chops. Stevens’ book and lyrics are laden with chuckle worthy material, even if lyrics at times are simplistic and one-dimensional. A likeness to Hamilton comes to mind for the opening number, It’s A Myth, with its element of a sung/spoken narrative, regaling the history of the Greek Gods.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining new musical that has the potential to move onto bigger venues and reach larger audiences.
“Although an accomplished production with crisp direction from Marc Robin, this musical doesn’t quite have the voltage needed to bring it to life“
They often say that truth is stranger than fiction, and the real-life story on which “It Happened in Key West” is based seems to be no exception. Lifted from the 1940s newspaper headlines, the story begins with Count Carl von Cosel (Wade McCollum) being shipwrecked on the small island in the Straits of Florida. A brilliant, yet arrogant German scientist, he immediately lands a job as an X-ray technician at the local hospital. It is here that he finds his true love; local girl, Elena (Alyssa Martyn), who is the woman of his dreams that he has been searching for since childhood.
What ensues is, on paper, quite absurd. The Count, a ridiculous Pollyanna, overcomes with ingenuous ease two pretty large obstacles that stand in the way of his future happiness with Elena – what is strange, though, is that her happiness is never a consideration. Firstly, she is married, though that minor inconvenience is brushed away quite swiftly. The second is a bit tougher. She has tuberculosis – a death-sentence at the time. Though Carl does his best to save her life, she succumbs to her illness, but not before entrusting Carl with caring for her body in death. This responsibility is taken to its extreme, which is what gives flesh to the bones of the story – although it has, by now, taken over half the performance to reach this point.
Carl’s own journal is the source of what happens over the next seven years of bizarrely blissful matrimony, living in his cottage on the beach while he dotes over his slowly decomposing bride. Yet Jill Santoriello, who wrote the book, lyrics and music, seems to stifle the ‘stranger-than-fiction’ material, burying its comic potential in a mausoleum of mawkishness. I would so love to see this in the hands of a duo like Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. I realise that this might be an unfair and possibly irrelevant aspiration, but the audience could be forgiven for expecting some sort of nod in this direction. It is a macabre and quirky tale: and potentially hard to swallow – but too many spoonfuls of sugar make this adaptation too easy.
McCollum is the stand out performer, sometimes letting a touchingly legato loneliness show through the cracks in his scientifically manic obsession with the dead Elena. And with a twinkle in his eye he adds a much-needed extra dimension to the show, whilst his rich baritone fills the auditorium. But he is very much out there on his own, his optimism matching that of his character’s.
The life and death of Carl von Cosel is a fascinating story, begging to be told in this particular art form of musical theatre; where fantasy and reality collide. Although an accomplished production with crisp direction from Marc Robin, this musical doesn’t quite have the voltage needed to bring it to life. And despite some strong ensemble voices the music is at odds with the text. Overladen with power ballads, the score cruises along nicely enough, but without even the slightest oddity in the narrative steering it away from the middle of the road.