KC Fringe: ‘After Persephone’

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Inspired by a Greek myth, “After Persephone, a Musical,” places the Gods in contention when Hades, God of the Underworld, kidnaps Persephone, the maiden daughter of Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest.. The show premieres in the upcoming KC Fringe Festival, July 19 – 29.

Kansas City talents Calvin Arsenia, Diana Edwin, Celia Gannon* and Marilyn Lynch will bring the musical to life at The Arts Asylum, 1000 E 9th St., with the first performance slated for Friday, July 20, 8 pm.

Taking into account gender and power issues of our time, the story told re-conceives the original myth, filling in an imagined backstory and progression of events. A rich variety of music (including Arsenia on harp) ranges from lullaby to girl band back-up and from raucous bellydance to grief-filled lament, with good humor along the way.

Writing for the KC Independent, Performing Arts Editor Paul Horsely has already named “After Persephone” a “Best Pick” for Summer 2018 entertainment.

For the Greeks, the original Persephone/Demeter/Hades myth explained the origin of the seasons. After her abduction to become Queen of Hades, Persephone’s annual return to the earth plain heralded a joyful Spring. When she returned to the Underworld, the earth lamented her disappearance with the bleak Winter. Much like in the story of Eve and the Garden of Eden, Persephone’s fate – and the fate of the world — was sealed by eating a piece of fruit, in Persephone’s case, a pomegranate.

However,, the new musical focuses in different directions, raising questions of personal identity, male-female balance of powers, human loss and longing,  the nature of relationships, and the position of victim vs. victor.

Playing the role of Persephone is Diana Edwin in her first musical theatre appearance. Edwin recently received her Master of Arts Degree in Music from the University of Missouri Conservatory of Music. Opposite Edwin — and also in his first staged musical theatre appearance is Calvin Arsenia, well known on the local music scene for his wide-ranging vocal style, and often playing the harp.

After Persephone . . .” also features actors Celia Gannon* (Demeter) and Marilyn Lynch (Hecate, the wise aunt).  Additional performers include Megan Berning, Jack Bohnenstiehl, Victor Castillo, Taryn Eby, Barbara Handy, Dawn Linneman, Samantha Ruiz, and Bill VanBuskirk.

The book and lyrics for “After Persephone” are written by Donna W. Ziegenhorn and music composed by Marcy Smalley. Ziegenhorn’s play “Bingo on the Boulevard” won Best of Fringe in attendance in 2016. Her play, “The Hindu and the Cowboy,” has won several awards. This is her first musical. It’s also a first for composer Smalley. The two have teamed up to create the producing company, Calliope Collaborations, LLC.

The show is directed by Ile Haggins with Jason Bell as Music Director and Fanny Po Sim Head as Instrumental Director. Live music will include piano, guitar, violin, cello, flute, percussion and harp.

The two-act musical has been specially adapted for the Fringe one-hour format and is billed as a ‘full workshop performance.’ Five performances are slated between July 20 and 28 at the Arts Asylum, 1000 E. 9th St., Kansas City Mo.  For complete performance schedule, visit the “After Persephone” event page on Facebook.

*Gannon appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association.

Image courtesy of KC Fringe Festival



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