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Juniata Theatre Stages 'Metamorphoses," Inspired by Ovid's Works

(Posted October 10, 2011)

A sketch of the play's set design featuring an onstage pool. "Metamorphoses" will run from Friday, Oct. 21, through Oct 22 and Thursday, Oct. 27 through Oct 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the von Liebig Theatre in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. There will be 2 p.m. matinee performances Oct. 22 and 29. Tickets for the production are $4 for students and $7 for adults.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Juniata College Department of Theatre will dive deep into the pool of Western cultural memory to stage "Metamorphoses," a modern-day adaptation of the Roman poet Ovid's stories based on Greek and Roman mythology. The production will run from Friday, Oct. 21, through Oct 22 and Thursday, Oct. 27 through Oct 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the von Liebig Theatre in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. There will be 2 p.m. matinee performances Oct. 22 and 29.

Tickets for the production are $4 for students and $7 for adults. Tickets are available at the box office before the performance and can be purchased online at https://secureweb.juniata.edu/tickets/tickets.html?SHOW_ID=22.

Although plays adapted from Roman myth are not known for special effects, the theatre department has created as part of its ambitious set design a large pool filled with about two feet of water. The pool serves as a centerpiece for each tale and the actors will at various times get more than their feet wet as part of the drama, comedy and dance.

"One of the themes of the show is transformation, and the pool is perfect for that," says Kate Clarke, assistant professor of theatre and director of the play. "Actors will get wet and we even (stage) a shipwreck. Quite a bit of work went into the beautiful set. We even corralled the physics department to help us make sure the floor of the theatre could stand the weight of the pool."

Each episode within the play starts at the pool, with Juniata student-actors creating stories familiar to fans of mythology and legend. Among the eight tales acted out are Midas, the gold-hoarding king, the tragic love of Orpheus and Eurydice, the fatal infatuation of Echo and Psyche and the tales of Narcissus and Pandora.

"Quite a bit of work went into the beautiful set. We even corralled the physics department to help us make sure the floor of the theatre could stand the weight of the pool."
Kate Clarke, assistant professor of theatre

The production incorporates dance, music and image projections, as well as a moment of trapeze choreography to illustrate the mythological themes. Clarke warns that young children should not attend, saying the play might be rated PG-13 "The myths are full of all kinds of relationships," she says.

Clarke has performed or directed at Juniata for years as a member of the Gravity Partners, and directed the college's production of "The Putnam County Spelling Bee" in 2010.

She earned a bachelor's degree in 1990 at Oberlin College and went on to earn a master's of fine arts degree in 2000 from the University of Washington. She has taught acting and other theatre classes at Tulane University in New Orleans, La. and at CUNY Hunter College. As an actress, she has appeared in such plays as "But I'm a Cheerleader," "Bitter Suite" and "Stop." She also has acted in several television series, including "Third Watch" and "Northern Exposure."

Juniata's production features technical and artistic production from several members of Gravity Partners, the college's professional theatre collaborative.

The pool and the rest of the play's design is a collaboration between Jessie Sullivan, the technical director, and Kristen Morgan, set designer. Sullivan is technical director for the Halbritter Center and von Liebig Theatre and has worked at such venues as Trump Plaza, Hard Rock Casino, Ashlawn Opera Festival and McCarter Theatre. Morgan is a scenic technician and instructor at Virginia Tech University, and created the set design for Juniata's production of "Angels in America."

Other members of Gravity Partners working on the production are Maria Shaplin, a lighting designer from Philadelphia, Pa., and Jennifer Paar, a costume designer from New York.

The cast for "Metamorphoses" is as follows" Dan Angelozzi, a freshman from West Chester, Pa.; Elizabeth Casey, a sophomore from Landisville, Pa.; Jessica Haggerty-Denison, a sophomore from Cherry Valley, N. Y.; Sara Deppenbrook, a junior from Beaver Falls, Pa.; Brenna Frederickson, a senior from Fairfax Station, Va.; Quintin Hess, a senior from Princeton, N.J.; Andrew Kilpatrick, a freshman from Johnstown, Pa.; Sara Lucchini, a sophomore from Northborough, Mass.; Susanne Makosky, a senior from Greensburg, Pa.; Andrew Orsie, a senior from Summit Point, W.Va.; Gary Shoemaker, a sophomore from Summerdale, Pa.; Megan Smith, a freshman from Scranton, Pa.; Emily White, a freshman from York, Pa.; and Kevin Whitmire, a senior from Enola, Pa.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.