by Byron Woods
Director and playwright Mary Zimmerman's fantastic stage adaptation of Ovid's Metamorphoses took the Drama Desk award for best play and garnered Zimmerman the Tony for best director during its 11-month run on Broadway in 2002.
But if you're wondering why it took Raleigh Ensemble Players seven months to bring it to stage, just review the production checklist. You need:
1. 10 actors.
2. About 4,500 gallons of water.
3. A custom-built, 25' x 30' pool large enough to hold items 1 and 2.
4. A performance venue willing to risk accommodating all of the above for a month of rehearsals.
Initially, REP planned to use Metamorphoses to open their new performance space at 213 Fayetteville Street in March of this year.
Then the economic downturn hit, and fundraising and renovation delays pushed the show date back to May, and then beyond. As the fall season approached, conflicts began to arise with other previously-scheduled shows. An actor left when a second rescheduling put production past her move to New York this fall. "We decided we had to do the show now," said managing director Gary Williams.
Thus came about an odd double-billing that REP is now calling their "August of Adventure."
Metamorphosis will run for one weekend only, Aug. 13-16, at Cardinal Gibbons School.
Before and after it, the company will open a show in their new space: playwright Joe Calarco’s riveting adaptation of Shakespeare's R&J. In Calarco's version, a quartet of students is forced to stage Shakespeare's tragedy surreptitiously, after hours, in an empty classroom of a conservative boarding school.
The show opens this weekend, Aug. 7-9. Then it goes dark for the week of Metamorphoses, before resuming Aug. 20 for a run through Aug. 30. Since the sprung floor is still being installed in REP's first floor performance space, Shakespeare's R&J will be staged upstairs, in the company's new rehearsal studio.
Another newsworthy item about these productions: Given the state of the economy, REP is significantly reducing ticket prices.
Admission for Shakespeare's R&J is free, although the company will be accepting donations. But due to limited studio space, reservations are a must: A waiting list is already in place for all shows this first weekend.
The $10 ticket price for Metamorphosis reflects a 45% reduction over last season's $18 adult admission rate. With a run of only five performances, if you want in, you probably should make reservations now, either at the box office page on their Web site or by calling 832-9607.