It’s probably not accurate in the 21st century to describe any classical Greek drama as “well known”—but some are even less well-known than others. And that can provide any creative team with the liberating sense of being able to add some interesting twists.
The University of Utah Theatre Department celebrates the 40th anniversary of its Classical Greek Theatre Festival with a production of Euripides’ Alcestis. The tale deals with a king named Admetos, who is given the opportunity by the god Apollo to avoid death—if someone else will take his place. And the cowardly king accepts the offer of his wife, Alcestis, to do so.
All the most recognizable elements of Greek tragedy are present—choruses, intervening gods, tragic flaws—but director Hugh Hanson has added a more cinematic element to his interpretation. Composer Cathy Neff has created an original score of 19 pieces, effectively turning the production into—as described by dramaturge Jim Svendsen—Alcestis: The Musical.
In the tradition of both the ancients and the University of Utah’s contemporary revival, the performances take place early in the morning, in the glorious Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. But for those who just can’t manage to rise on the weekend at such an un-Greek-godly hour, you can always take advantage of the “road show” performance at Weber State University on Sept. 29.
Classical Greek Theatre Festival: Alcestis @ Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre, 300 Wakara Way, 801-585-0556, Sept. 18-19 & 25-26, 9 a.m., $7-$13; @ Weber State University Wildcat Theater, 3848 Harrison Blvd., Ogden, 801-626-6431, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m., $7-$10. Theatre.Utah.edu