First Look: ‘The Odyssey’ at Artpark

There is a phrase that is used often when it comes to creating a special project of a large scale. “It takes a village.” What does this mean? It means when a group can come together to develop and create, whatever the project may be, it will only contribute to the greater good of the community. This is exactly what is happening early this August when Artpark brings their production of Homer’s “The Odyssey” to the stage.

“There is an entire national movement happening right now, based on the Public Works model of theatre,” says director Roger Danforth, “this is a communal event where the public can break down the walls between us and them,” meaning that everyone is able to participate. 

Back in April, Artpark held open auditions for the show, asking anyone and everyone with theatrical abilities, or those who just wanted to try something new, to come out and be part of the show. “We have over 100 people in the cast who are all doing various things,” says Carin Jean White, associate director of the show, “we are working with so many schedules, and getting everyone to be on the same page, it is a huge undertaking.”

While the production may seem daunting, it is truly a monumental feat. Homer’s story tells a tale of Odysseus, who is on a quest to return home. The story deals with issues of community, the meaning of home, and where community comes from. It is only fitting that the Western New York Community come together to build a production about home, and pride in a community’s region.

“The Odyssey” was conceived and originally directed by Lear DeBessonet at the New York Public Theatre. The book, music and lyrics are by Todd Almond. Roger Danforth helms the Artpark production. “I am so excited about this,” says Danforth, “Families from all over Western New York are going to be very entertained by what we have in this show. The entertainment value is phenomenal with aerialists, bands, orchestras, and even break dancers. The show will dazzle.”

Danforth says that this show will also bridge the gap between age groups since there are many generations on stage at once. “The family experience will be memorable because we have performers who are 7 or 8 years old on stage next to performers who are 80 years old. Generations will be speaking to other generations.”

“The Odyssey” will star Terence Archie as Odysseus, a Broadway veteran who most recently was seen in “Rocky The Musical” in New York, and Courtney Balan, who was in the original casts of “Falsetto’s (2016 revival) and “Finding Neverland,” as Penelope.  The Singer will be played by Christopher Guilmet, and The Cyclops will be performed by notable mime, Gregg Goldston.

Homer’s “The Odyssey” will run August 4 and 5, 2018 at Artpark’s Main Stage theatre, in Lewiston. For more information, click here.