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BWW Review: PLATEE at Des Moines Metro Opera: An Exciting Updated Production for a Classic Opera

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This Sold Out Production Runs Through July 23

BWW Review: PLATEE at Des Moines Metro Opera: An Exciting Updated Production for a Classic Opera
Taylor Stayton as Platée
Photo by Duane Tinkey

Pink, voguing, drag, stiletto heels, opera, seeing that list, you may feel that opera seems out of place, but you couldn't be more wrong. On July 10, Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO) took all those and melded them together as they opened the company's premiere production of "Platée." While many companies may have taken a more classical approach to this opera, DMMO took the risk of taking a modern approach to this opera. After seeing this production on the 10th, I can tell you with certainty the risk certainly reaped the rewards that go with it.

If you aren't familiar with this opera, "Platée" starts with a prologue of some of the gods talking about Juno's jealousy of Jupiter. They decide to play a trick on both Jupiter and Juno and the mortals on earth. The plan was to have Jupiter pretend to fall in love with a mortal to show Juno her jealousy is unfounded. Mercury then comes to earth to speak with King Cithéron about this plan, and they decide to use the water-nymph Platée. While at first Platée thinks it is King Cithéron who loves her, her vanity gets in the way when she finds out that it is the god Jupiter, who she feels she deserves to have love her. Does this end up teaching Juno a lesson about her jealousy, and what happens when Platée finds out the truth? That you will have to attend the show to see.

As you walk into the theatre, your eyes are given a feast of pink to see-a sea of pink that extends from the proscenium of the stage to the floor in front. There is pink everywhere, thanks to the brilliant design from Set and Costume Designer Jacob A. Climer. His work was last seen during DMMO's stunningly beautiful production of "Rusalka." Like his previous work, Climer again finds a beautiful and unique that becomes a vital part of telling the story being seen on stage. What was even more exciting was to see the curtain open after the prologue to reveal the luxurious swap of Platée. But pink isn't the only thing that stands out with the set, the mirrors that surround the proscenium and are featured in the swamp behind the proscenium as well. These played well into the story of Platée's vanity. The pink feast for the eyes doesn't end with Jacob S Climer's set. It continues into the costuming of Platée and the ensemble.

The brilliant lighting of Nate Wheatley balances does a great job of finding colors of lighting that contrast to the pinks of the set and costumes and accentuates them. All of this is tied together with the fantastic directing Chas Rader-Schiber. His productions have been some of the most spectacular productions I've seen with DMMO, including 2018's production of Rusalka. In taking the idea of Platée being beautiful and vein, Rader-Schiber took what may seem like an old opera and made it approachable to a new generation of opera lovers.

The luxury of the evening didn't end with the spectacular design team; it continued with a sensational cast led by Taylor Stayton as Platée. Stayton takes on the daunting task of bringing a new Platée to life on stage. While he did a fantastic job playing this vein character, I appreciate that he brought heart to the character. It allowed the audience to feel for Platée and lead to a beautiful moment at the show's close.

Another amazing performance came in Elizabeth Sutphen's hilarious take on La Folie. From the moment she came on the stage, tied up in a straitjacket, she had the audience in tears laughing. Another cast member that brought comedy to the show was Jonas Hacker's performance as Mercury. His timing was spot on and led to one of the best entrances in the show. The show also featured spectacular performances from Scott Conner as Jupiter, Zoie Reams as Juno, Alexander Birch Elliott as Momus, Alex Rosen as Cithéron, Cadie J Bryan as Clarine, and Benjamin Taylor as Un Satyr. The cast also features a strong ensemble with special performances by this year's featured dancers.

With the fireworks happening on stage, both literally and figuratively, this is a production you won't want to miss. I only wish it was open longer than four performances so I could catch this entertaining production again. Platée will have the audiences falling in love with this modern take on this classic show, from the spectacular production team to the tremendously talented cast. Performances for DMMO's sold-out production of Platée will continue through July 23. While tickets are sold out, you can be put on a waiting list by reaching out to Des Moines Metro Opera's guest services manager Kaylah Hicok at khicok@dmmo.org.

For more information, visit Platée - Des Moines Metro Opera.


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