I’m not sure what could be more meaningful, hopeful and uplifting than this remarkable group of gifted gospel singers performing the conclusion of one of the most heartbreaking myths in the Greek canon, “Oedipus.”
The myth is well known. King Oedipus discovers that his wife, with whom he has several children, is in fact his mother and that the traveler he killed many years before in a fight, was actually his father. Both he and his father while trying to avoid their predicted fates ended up meeting them head on, without ever knowing. After all this terrible information is known to all, his mother/wife, Jocasta, hangs herself and upon discovering her body Oedipus stabs out his own eyes. Like I said, heartbreaking. “The Gospel at Colonus” portion of the story takes place after Oedipus and his daughters have been wandering the land, surviving on the charity of strangers and he feels the end of his life is nearing. Blind and weak he journeys to Colonus, near Athens, searching for redemption and a final resting place. Which is of course yet another obstacle for him to overcome.
It sounds grim…and it is. But it’s also the compelling conclusion to a long and stirring, sorry tale. A life full of opportunities and riches and, on the face of it, very good luck that is actually tragic and deeply sad. Can something beautiful be made from this? Well, stories have been told for thousands of years of Oedipus, as a warning to us all to cherish what we have I suppose.
But this incredible musical version by the Tony Award-winning Court Theatre of Chicago lifts the story to otherworldly heights. Each member of this heavenly choir is gifted and glorious. The power of their voices matched only by the talent of their acting. They are a revelation in fact. Inspiring, hopeful, tender, with voices so perfectly in harmony they are almost beyond reason.
The Getty Villa is the perfect place to see “The Gospel at Colonus.” Over the years it feels as if every performance of all the exquisite ancient stories like this one has imbued the steps of the amphitheater with their essence. Etching each tragedy or comic turn into the stone itself, giving it an energy not unlike the sacred sites it mimics from ancient Greece or Rome.
“The Gospel at Colonus” infuses an abundant joy and forgiveness into the space. As Oedipus aches with a yearning to be understood and released from the dark mantle of his life, the songs rise to meet this epic task. Beautifully written, powerfully and gorgeously performed, the words ancient and the meaning as purposeful and as profound as it ever was.
The amazing performers of The Court Theatre bring their deep understanding of this text to a whole other level. From the very first note I, and the audience all around me, knew that tonight was going to change them, and it did.
Art as wonderful as this deserves to be seen by as many people as possible and the Getty Villa has done us all a huge honor to bring it here to Los Angeles. So please take advantage of that gift and book your tickets, take the glorious drive out to Malibu and spend some time amongst the gods with the phenomenal talent of the Court Theatre.
Through September 30
Thursday- Saturday @ 8pm
The Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Directed by Mark J.P. Hood and Court Theatre’s Marilyn F. Vitale artistic director Charles Newell, with associate director TaRon Patton and associate music director Mahmoud Khan, this production was conceived and adapted with original lyrics by Lee Breuer and includes music composed by Bob Telson.
The play will feature set design by John Culbert, costumes by Raquel Adorno, lighting design by Keith Parham, movement design by Cristin Carole, and sound design by Sarah Ramos.
The Gospel at Colonus cast includes Kelvin Roston Jr. (Chicago Med, Chicago P.D., and South Side), Jason Huysman, Aeriel Williams (National Tour’s The Color Purple, Off-Broadway’s Trevor: The Musical), Kai A. Ealy (61st Street, The 4400, Ordinary Joe, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Fire), Ariana Burks (Beats, South Side, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, The Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show, and PrankStars), Mark Spates Smith (The 4400, Black Lightning, The Chi, Chicago P.D., Empire, and Shining Girls), Shari Addison (The Gospel at Colonus World Tour), Eric A. Lewis (National Tour’s Jesus Christ Superstar, Off-Broadway’s Spamilton), Juwon Tyrel Perry (North Carolina Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, and Chicago Shakespeare), Jessica Brooke Seals (Black Ensemble Theater’s The Other Cinderella, Paramount Theatre’s Jesus Christ Superstar, and Mercury Theater’s Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Women of Soul) and Cherise Thomas (Broadway’s Waitress). The chorus includes Jerica Exum (National Tour’s Waitress), Shantina Lynet’, Isaac Ray (Black Ensemble Theater’s A New Attitude: In Tribute to Patti Labelle and Urban Love Story), and Eva Ruwé (Theatre at the Center’s Little Shop of Horrors).