Imagination Stage Perseus BayouBy Jennifer Gusso • Feb 9th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Imagination Stage, Bethesda, MD
Through March 13th
1:30 with intermission
Reviewed February 6th, 2011
Perseus Bayou retells the Greek Myth of Perseus by setting the story in post-Civil War Louisiana. While that premise is probably completely missed by its young audiences, the beautiful sets, costumes and strong performance are more than able to hold the audience’s attention.
Several of the performers were really amazing and their performances brought the entire piece to life. Evan Casey (Polydectes/Acrisius) created a deliciously evil villain with a sickeningly spot-on Southern drawl. Everything about his performance oozed arrogance and cruelty. Casie Platt’s Andromeda was full of vigor and energy and heart. Every young person in the audience probably wanted to run up and play with her infectious character. She also had the strong, sweet vocals of an ingénue to add to her charm. Matthew Schleigh’s Hermes was the perfect mix of trickster and celestial guide. He was fun, playful, and just the right amount of self-interested. He truly inhabited his character’s panther form with his gestures and movements. Shaunté Tabb as Athena had such strong command and presence combined with a hauntingly beautiful and powerful voice that it was easy to believe that she was a god and far above mere mortals.
Unfortunately these amazing performances did overshadow the lead actor. Tyler Herman’s Perseus was wide-eyed and his vocals were pleasant, but he was definitely outmatched when playing against the four actors named above. He definitely has the potential to one day be in the same league as those four performers, but he is not quite there yet.
Less consistent performances were given by some other members of the cast. Lauren Shmalo’s Danae was a little too over-the-top and dramatic and her accent seemed almost melodramatic, but she was much stronger and seemed more in her element as one of the grey ghosts. Ricardo Frederick Evans (Doucet/Beaucepheus) was simply largely forgettable, although basically likeable, amongst the stronger and more dynamic cast members. Kristen Jepperson (Cassie/Medusa) had a gorgeous voice that was highlighted in her time as Medusa, but her acting was extremely stiff and fake and definitely far below the bar set by the rest of the cast.
The scenic design was exquisite. Netting was used to create many set pieces in beautiful sea-like colors to really make everything feel like the bayou. The production also utilized beautifully designed props and puppets throughout. The costumes were this wonderfully creative blend of Greek mythology, Civil War era, and Mardi Gras. As far as Scenic (Tony Cisek) and Costume (Brandon McWilliams) design goes, Imagination Stage appears to be one of the strongest in the area.
The show was well-staged, and the fight choreography (Lorraine Ressegger-Slone) was especially impressive. Director Mary Hall Surface did a good job of bringing all of the elements together. Obviously, it would have been nice to have seen all performers reach the level of the strongest members of the cast. Luckily, those strong members, along with the beautiful sets and costumes, were able to hold the production together and keep it interesting throughout.
Photos by Scott Suchman.
- Polydectes/Acrisius: Evan Casey
- Doucet/Beaucepheus: Ricardo Frederick Evans
- Perseus: Tyler Herman
- Cassie/Medusa: Kristen Jepperson
- Andromeda: Casie Platt
- Hermes: Matthew Schleigh
- Danae: Lauren Shmalo
- Athena: Shaunté Tabb
- Director: Mary Hall Surface
- Music Director: George Fulginiti-Shakar
- Scenic Designer: Tony Cisek
- Lighting Designer: Dan Covey
- Costume Designer: Brandon McWilliams
- Sound Designer: Chris Baine
- Stage Manager: Kristen J. Bishel
- Fight Choreographer: Lorraine Ressegger-Slone
- Choreographer: Ingrid Zimmer
- Associate Scenic Designer: HannaH Crowell
- Associate Lighting Designer: Andrew Cissna
Disclaimer: Imagination Stage provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/6176.
Jennifer Gusso has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musical for use in church.