BWW Review: MYTHIC at The Segal Centre
The Segal Centre has another hit on its hands with the North American Premiere of the pop/rock musical, MYTHIC. Directed by Brian Hill, this energetic production has already been extended through November 24, 2019.
MYTHIC features book and lyrics by Marcus Stevens (RED) and music by Oran Eldor (Orchestrator and Arranger for the Broadway revival of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, ANASTASIA on Broadway, and the Segal Centre's THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ: THE MUSICAL and THE HOCKEY SWEATHER: A MUSICAL.) MYTHIC received its world premiere at Charing Cross Theatre in London in the fall of 2018. A cast recording of the London production was released on Broadway Records in February of this year. While some may be inclined to compare MYTHIC to Broadway's Tony Award winning hit HADESTOWN, there is no comparison. HADESTOWN explores the myth of Persephone and Hades, yes, but much older versions of these characters. In some ways, MYTHIC can be considered an origin story. I would be much more inclined to compare it, in style at least, to the upcoming Broadway musical SIX, which is a modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII.
MYTHIC opens with a high energy, spectacular number called 'It's a Myth,' which drops the audience right into the action and sets the stage for the show. Teenage Persephone (Julia McLellan - KINKY BOOTS on Broadway) has been brought up by her boho-chic single mother Demeter (Heather McGuigan - LES MISERABLES 25th Anniversary Production) away from the flashy lifestyle of the other gods. As Persephone struggles to find her identity, Demeter struggles to accept her daughter is growing up. On her journey of self-discovery, and after the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite (Jessica Gallant - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES) casts a love spell, Persephone falls for the bad-boy, God of the Underworld, Hades (James Daly - MASTER HAROLD...AND THE BOYS), and he her. Sidestepping away from the original myth where Persephone is abducted and raped, MYTHIC has her going to the underworld by choice. Along the way, Persephone gets to know her megalomaniacal father Zeus (Aadin Church - THE LITTLE MERMAID). Set in what appears to be our celebrity obsessed time, the characters words and actions are often something one might see on a reality show which is equal parts hilarious and annoying.
At the heart of the show, is the relationship between Persephone and Demeter, as well as the relationship between Persephone and Hades, though with a short 90 minute running time, both relationships felt rushed and not quite fleshed out. Persephone and Demeter's duet at the end of the show, "I Will Be Your Home," tugged at my heartstrings and was the first moment where I truly understood the complicated relationship between mother and daughter. Hades and Persephone's "Beauty in the Darkness" was hands down my favourite song from the show. Stunningly simple and beautiful with gorgeous vocals from Daly and McLellan.
The songs, and there are lots of them, with few scenes between, are catchy, but many lack substance. An example is the ear worm "Ew!" sung by selfie obsessed, socialite Aphrodite and the Greek Chorus which is pure, glossy pop and includes the lyric, "Ew ew ew. What is on my shoe, ew ew." It's evident Jessica Gallant is having oodles of fun as Aphrodite and her fun is infectious.
Heather McGuigan's Demeter seamlessly evolves from Earth mother to a gutsy Goddess who will do anything to save her child. Her voice is ethereal and seems to be channeling Carole King, in the best possible way. Julia McLellan's Persepone, had just the right amount of spunk and spirited rebelliousness, with a great big voice that reaches the heavens. Aadin Church was a hoot as a big, splashy Little Richard-esque Zeus. James Daly was perfect as the bad boy/James Dean/John Bender/moody, broody Hades, though I would have liked the show to further explore the character. Why is he so sullen? And how does his guitar stay in tune in the depths of hell?
Each and every member of the ensemble is a star in the making, yet when they were all together on stage, as a Greek Chorus, they were perfectly in sync, moving as one. A multi-talented group of actors, featuring Alexia Gourd (PROM QUEEN, MARY POPPINS), Eva Petris (ON SECOND AVENUE, CAPTAIN AURORA), Jacob Sheffield (ANNE AND GILBERT), Kathline Greco (MARY POPPINS), Matt Raffy (ANNE AND GILBERT), Megan Brydon (MAMMA MIA) and Patrick Park (PROM QUEEN) round out the cast of colourful characters.
The choreography by Avihai Haham's (Eurovision, X-FACTOR) was stunning and I found myself taking the time to really look at each dancer. Whether it be a ballad or an uptempo, the ensemble was electric. Each movement spirited and specific.
The band, led by musical director Nick Burgess rocked the roof off the Segal Centre. Seeing them rock out to a score they clearly enjoy playing, was so much fun.
MYTHIC makes for a fun and interesting spin on an old Greek myth. Where the book might be lacking, the cast more than makes up for it with their passionate performances. And good Goddess, I just can't get "Ew" out of my head.
MYTHIC continues at The Segal Centre, 5170 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, QC H3W 1M7, through November 24, 2019. Tickets range from $53 - $67 (Group, Senior, Student, Under 30 discounts available) and are available by calling (514) 739.7944 or visiting www.segalcentre.org.
Photo Credit: Leslie Schachter