November 16, 2005
The Theater Program’s performance of Mary Zimmerman’s “The Odyssey” is another triumph for Stockton’s Performing Arts. The performance promised to be innovative and engaging, and it has turned out to be just that. Homer’s epic could have been performed in any number of ways that would not have worked on the stage, but the playwright has written a very witty and intelligent piece and made the play very accessible (to all ages). It is a very long play, so that it can incorporate as many of the stories as possible, but it doesn’t feel that way owing to the direction and acting.
Pam Hendrick directs “The Odyssey” with considerable assurance. She manages to tease out of the play all the humor embedded in the text and seems to have managed to get the students to really engage with all its many layers of meaning. Mark Mallet’s lighting seemed to my untrained eye also to be spot on, so to speak. The performance also draws on the creative talents of some guest artists: the set designer, Bart Healey, is visiting from Rowan University, and the costume designer, Deanna Berg hailed from New York City Ballet. The set, painted by students under the direction of our own John Hobbie, is handsome, and the screens are used very effectively throughout the play. The costumes too are excellent, often subdued in color, but at points quite electrifying (as with the very amusing scene of the sirens all dressed in bright red outfits).
The acting is excellent as always. There are wonderful performances, not just from the many recognizable players we have come to expect to see – Justin Maciejewski as Telemachus, Patrick McMullen as Zeus, Melissa Fredericks as Athena, Matthew Shell as Antinous, Rebeccah Long as an assortment of people, and Jessica Eisenstein as the Muse among other characters (these students may not be allowed to graduate!) – but also from some newer actors. Keith Sczepanski takes on the lead role as Odysseus with great authority, and Lane Jackson (Alcinous) is coming along very well, growing in confidence every minute he is on the stage. The rest of the cast, Ryan Daly, Noah Houlihan, Matthew Gooley, William Millar, Albert Smith, George Carney, Katie Gildner, Lisa Longo, Stephanie Kingsbury, Julie Schalick, and Jesicca Schon, also put in some very solid performances throughout.
So, I do encourage you to attend the play. It may be that you haven’t read these ancient Greek stories for many years and you need your memory jogged, or that you are a scholar who reads and rereads “The Odyssey” on a regular basis. Either way, I think you will find the performance engaging and edifying.
The Press of Atlantic City wrote a nice review of the play at this link: