Orpheus in the Underworld: Opening night reviewed

Orpheus in the Underworld is an irreverent comedic take on the well known tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. When Pluto, god of the underworld, seduces and abducts Orpheus’s wife Eurydice, Orpheus runs to the gods of Olympus to help get her back. Predictably, chaos, conflict, and fun ensue. Offenbach’s music is lively and energetic, and he makes sure there’s time for a can-can or two. The book and lyrics are newly adapted by Phil Park, and in English, unlike the original.

This is not a show in danger of taking itself too seriously: the whole production has a supreme sense of the tongue-in-cheek. Frequent asides to the audience keep us engaged and entertained. Pluto (played by Andrew Johnston, a third year medic) is comedically removed, while Jupiter (played by Andrew Mundy, a fourth year IR student) is the blustery, though all too often ignored, king of heaven. The contrast between the two provides for much hilarity, while the chorus of Greek gods pokes constant fun at the main characters, and one another.

The work of the musical director, Ross McArthur, is on full display. The show is at its best in the ensemble numbers, achieving a strong and well balanced sound. The orchestra, while small in number, are mighty in spirit, and more than ably do their part in supporting the singers on stage. The opera society, with Kate McGregor directing, has pulled together a very successful show. I would highly recommend anyone interested in irreverent and self-aware comedy go see this show, Monday night (5/3), at the Byre Theatre, at 7 pm.

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