BELOIT - Redemption, love, wrath and above all transformation are at the heart of Beloit Memorial High School Theatre's fall production, "Metamorphoses."
The play was created by American playwright Mary Zimmerman, who adapted her show from the classic poem of the same name written by the Roman poet Ovid.
The show opens at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Beloit Memorial High School Auditorium, 1225 Fourth St., with additional performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The play tells the story of nine ancient myths that rely heavily on narration, director Greg Wallendal said.
"As the narrator is telling the story the story unfolds in front of you," Wallendal said.
All of the seating is onstage, and the actors end up interacting with the narrators and frequently break the fourth wall.
"It's an intimate experience. We built a pool of water, and the actors get into the water and act in it... When the actors splash some water on you, you're right there and feel like you're part of the show," Wallendal said.
He said the pool onstage becomes a metaphor for transformation.
"My tech crew has been amazing at building one of the most involved sets we've ever had," Wallendal said.
The show begins with one of the more renowned Greek myths: King Midas and His Golden Touch.
After Midas provides shelter to one of the followers of Bacchus, the god of wine, Bacchus offers to grant Midas one wish.
Midas, consumed by his greed, wishes that everything he touches be turned to gold. Shockingly, this wish backfires, and tragedy ensues.
"Midas is a very interesting character, because he thinks he's in charge and can boss everyone around," Senior Evan Langone said of his character. "He really can't and he doesn't know that, but the audience can see that."
If he had to pick a word to describe the show, he said that word would be whimsical.
"It's hard to describe, because there are so many different aspects of the show. It's so diverse, but somehow it all flows together still," Langone said. "Each scene has a completely different story, emotion and vibe completely, but it still manages to pull itself together, and I think that's cool."
Junior Justine Ranum, who is portraying Midas's daughter, agrees that the show features different elements, but is threaded together with the common theme of transformation.
Unlike many of her peers, she knew a bit about Greek mythology already and enjoys getting to see the myths she's been reading about since she was younger being performed on stage.
Wallendal chose this play, because he's a fan of Zimmerman's post-modern style. For example, in one scene all of the actors are wearing togas, and in the next the myth has been adapted to be set in modern times.
"Mary Zimmerman focuses on visual metaphors and creating metaphors for what's going on," Wallendal said. "It's about re-framing a classic tale to have a modern twist."
He also loves how the show features an ensemble cast with different stories, enabling the actors to play multiple roles. For example, Langone plays Midas in one story and a narrator in another, and Ranum plays Midas's daughter in one scene, and in another she plays Myrrha, a woman cursed by Aphrodite to lust after her own father.
Leilani Schaller is another actor playing multiple characters: Iris, the goddess of rainbows, and Hunger.
As Iris, she gets to send a message to Sleep, asking him to make sure a widow knows of her husbands passing.
"I'm pretty colorful, literally and personality-wise," Schaller said. "She's a fun character and is an interesting one to play."
She also plays Hunger in another story, slowly convincing a man to become so ravenous he consumes himself.
Schaller enjoys that role more because of the physical acting she gets to perform.
"It's an extremely magical show," Schaller said. "It pulls out a lot of different emotions. Some of them are more sad. Some of them are anger or, in my case, hunger. Seeing everything come together with all of the other aspects, like light and sound, makes me so excited for opening night and all of the performances."
Tickets to "Metamorphoses," which may only be purchased at the door, are $7 for adults and $4 for students and seniors.