– by guest writer Vanessa Strickland -
Debuting in DC this summer, The Young Olympians and the Most Amazingly Awesome Adventure Ever! (aka “YO“) is an all-ages musical with a story rooted in Greek mythology. Drawing inspiration from pop culture classics such as the Goonies and Scooby-Doo, YO features original music, puppets, and fight choreography to create an extraordinary adventure for audiences of all ages.
The story opens with four young heroes-in-training: Hercules, Jason, Perseus, and Andromeda, in the prime of adolescence. A school field trip to goes horribly awry when the heroes arrive at Mt. Olympus to meet the all-powerful Gods, Poseidon and Zeus. Within moments of drinking from a chalice of Ambrosia, the Gods come under a bizarre curse, causing them to lose their memories and regress to a childlike state. It’s now up to the four friends to return the Gods to their former selves.
The future heroes embark on their adventure, singing and dancing their way through battles and out-witting mythological monsters; including the pouty cyclops, Polyphemus, and a misunderstood Medusa. On their adventure, the four use their bravery, wisdom, and loyalty to reconcile their differences with each other. In the end, they realize the importance of friendship and work together to overcome the odds and face their destinies.
This show marks the Maryland Ensemble Theatre (MET) Fun Company’s first appearance at Capital Fringe, but playwright Sarah Shulman, composer Thom Huenger, and director Julie Herber regularly collaborate to create original theatre. Shulman has written several original shows, most of which are adaptations or reinterpretations of classic literature in a modern context. Such as Robin Hood: Occupy Sherwood, a rock musical also composed by Huenger and directed by Herber, which premiered last summer at Frederick Community College.
When the three heard that YO had been accepted to Capital Fringe, they contacted the original cast and crew, all of whom are returning for the DC run. “The cast is thrilled to be doing it again and that’s always awesome when you have a cast and crew who are pumped to do a show again,” Shulman says. “I don’t really think any of us felt like we were done with the show. We were always wondering ‘what’s next?’”
Much like the heroes in the musical, Shulman, Huenger, and Herber amassed a team of multitalented artists to help create the show. Actor-musicians Joe Jalette and Francis Mwale assisted Huenger with some of the lyrics and music in the show in addition to playing the roles of Jason and Hercules.
by Sarah Shulman
at Studio Theatre – Stage 4
1501 14th Street NW
Washington, DC, 20005
Details and tickets
In creating YO, we wanted to make sure its appeal extended to adults as well. Even for the most well-versed in Greek mythology, there are plenty of in-jokes and references, but the plot is straightforward and characters clear enough that the story is accessible to anyone. As critic Charlie Smith wrote about the original run: “The humor appeals to all ages and is charming, witty and refreshingly free of the mean-spiritedness and cheap laughs of insult and gross-out bodily function comedy, which all too often is the easy out of those writing for children…. The Young Olympians was… a serendipitous triumph of words, music and performance… Take everyone from toddler to grandparent, aunts and uncles, teens and random folk you meet on the street too. You’ll be glad you did.”
This production is a part of the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival, a Washington, DC non-profit, Capital Fringe.
— Guest writer Vanessa Strickland is a professional actor and company member with Maryland Ensemble Theatre and Young Playwrights’ Theater; she works and performs in both Maryland and DC. —
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