Capital Fringe Review: ‘Young Olympians and the Most Amazingly Awesome Adventure Ever!’ by Howard Lee Levine

Keeping the stories of Greek mythology fresh and evergreen for the present day, as well as instructive and entertaining to those of student age and older, is the tall order which Director Julie Herber and the Frederick MD-based cast of The Young Olympians and the Most Amazingly Awesome Adventure Ever! carried off at The Studio Theatre. The musical is written by Sarah Shulman with music by Thom Huenger (this Matthew Broderick lookalike combines dual talents of composing and acting as the cast’s Perseus).

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The play starts with four children of the gods temporarily exiled from Mt. Olympus and duking it out the classroom  All too human, they bicker and come to blows in the way of jocks (Hercules and Jason, Francis Mwale and Joe Jalette, respectively) versus geeks (Perseus). Caitlyn Joy (Andromeda) and Lisa Burl, as instructor Hermes, keep this adolescent verve in check long enough for the show’s first and  best musical number, “Gonna Be A Hero.” It’s a rouser, and allows all to express universal longings to find the hero within.

The cast members in this number and in “Lord of the Underworld” and “Find Your Destiny” bring convincing physicality, moves, and voices. Through plot twists both complicated and convincing, these demi-gods and goddesses venture through familiar mythological settings, some of them scary, indeed, recreated in a most clever way with sound and props.  Who knew that Medusa whose glance could turn men to stone, had a vampy side? Or that Cerberus, gatekeepers to the dreaded underworld, would be overseen by several cast members (Karli Cole, Ken Poisson, and Renee Gerrard) and would sport the most eye-popping costumes of the evening.

Finally our gang reunited with god of gods Zeus, played by Rich Cole, whose ditty “Now I’ve Got A Keg” reiterates his having been in the god business a very, very long time. He and Poseidon (in a dual role with Reiner Prochaska, showing versatility) put aside differences and teach another of the play’s  lessons: reconciling the brains versus brawn dilemma and coming to terms with age.

All told, The Young Olympians is a show to fire up the young, the student age while keeping those in the audience who are older.  It’s upbeat without a cynical bone in its body, and lots of fun.

The Young Olympians and the Most Amazingly Awesome Adventure Ever! plays through July 28, 2013 at The Studio Theatre – Stage 4 -1501 14th Street NW, in Washington, DC. For performance information, and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.

2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview: ‘The Young Olympians & the Most Amazingly Awesome Adventure Ever!’ by Vanessa Strickland.


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