Friday, June 17, 2011

Orpheus and Euridice by The Orpheus Project

Last week I saw a wonderful production of Ricky Ian Gordon's of Orpheus and Euridice by The Orpheus Project at Duo Multicultural Arts Center.

Heather Dudenbostel was Euridice and Ryan Keith Dudenbostel played Orpheus.   Jad Bernardo was the third "cast" member on piano.  

This Orpheus and Euridice was sort of a prequel to the story with which I was familiar when Orpheus journeys to the underworld to bring his wife Euridice back from death.    Ricky Ian Gordon has written a beautiful story of Orpheus' courtship of and marriage to Euridice and his time of mourning before he departs on his journey to rescue her.  

The music  - Ryan Keith Dudenbostel on clarinet and Jad Bernardo on piano - was soulful, sometimes mournful, always transportive.  It's an interesting mix of jazz and classical clarinet and piano.   I loved Dudenbostel's playing as a portrayal of Orpheus.  He danced around Euridice, wooing her and loving her, and even lay on the stage floor when he was prostrate with grief, at one point he taunted Bernardo at the piano.  

All of the vocals were performed by soprano Heather Dudenbostel.   She is a lovely actress and portrayed Euridice lovingly and lovely.  Her voice was covered at times by the piano and clarinet, so even though lyrics were momentarily lost, it was never unclear what was happening. 

The production was set in present day, beginning with Euridice reading a book in an arm chair and becoming drowsy.   At the end, she returned to her arm chair and appeared to awaken from a dream.

The set, in the beautiful little proscenium stage at Duo, was mostly bare, relying on lighting and slide show to illuminate the setting and mood.   Brian Letchworth directed the piece smoothly and thoughtfully, even making it seem dreamlike. 

This production of Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus and Euridice is the first in New York since its first viewing at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2006.   It has been nominated for a much deserved New York Innovative Theatre Award.

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