With a pool filling half the stage, South Pasadena High School drama students rehearse “Metamorphoses’’ recently. Photo by Shari Correll

In its most creative endeavor yet, the South Pasadena High School Drama Department will take on the challenge of performing in water.

“Metamorphoses,” a modern retelling of famous and influential myths in Western literature, will open Nov. 15 at South Pas High — with a large pool of water taking up half the stage. Actors will do everything in the pool, from wading and submerging to fighting and dancing.

The play is being directed by drama teacher Nick Hoffa, with technical direction by James Jontz.

“Any show that makes you laugh one minute, then chokes you up a minute later is a show I think is really worth doing,” said Hoffa, who is in his third year directing at SPHS.

“ ‘Metamorphoses’ asks how you change, grow or move on when in moments of despair. I felt like this group of actors was ready to tackle something a little more challenging. This performance calls on the students to use such a wide range of theatrical styles, and it really pushes them as young actors to really cool and exciting places.”

In “Metamorphoses,” 14 myths are reimagined with a twist. They include several well-known tales such as the story of King Midas. Twelve actors will perform more than 60 roles, including Zeus and Aphrodite.

“Some of the myths presented are well-known while others are less so,” Hoffa said. “But even some of the well-known ones have been inverted. ‘Orpheus’ is quite classical, but the story of Apollo’s son Phaeton crashing the sun has been retold as part of a therapy session.”

The water adds a dramatic element … and a challenge.

“It’s been an incredibly collaborative and creative rehearsal process,” said Hoffa. “We just have this big open stage with water and we have to create all these worlds. The actors and producers have had amazing ideas about how to do this. The show also asks a lot more from them physically — more vocal strength and movement. This play is also really funny and tragic, so I think they’ve enjoyed playing to these extremes. It’s the most creative and wild show I’ve done here.”

A few weeks ago, the cast enjoyed a visit by Anjali Bhimani, one of the original members of the Broadway cast, who gave students advice and encouragement.

“She talked about how the water is another character in the show and everything changes once the students start acting in water,” said Hoffa.

“Metamorphoses’’ does contain some mature themes and content, and parental discretion is advised for children 13 and under.

“I can’t wait for the audience to see all of the students’ talents on display,” Hoffa said. “In addition to the acting, we have student violinists and cellists on stage. Actors will sing, and two dance captains have choreographed several pieces. Art students created the program and posters. I’m also excited for people to be surprised at how this isn’t about boring, old myths. The show is so cool, fun and moving.”

“Metamorphoses” will be performed five times over two weekends at The Little Theater at South Pasadena High School. Show times: Nov. 15 and 16 at 7 p.m., Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. General admission is $15. Tickets can be purchased online at sphsasb.org or at the door.

Kamala Kirk
Author

Kamala Kirk is a contributing writer for the South Pasadena Review, San Marino Tribune and The Quarterly Magazine. Kamala formerly served as Managing Editor of Beauty Launchpad Magazine, West Coast Editor of American Salon Magazine, and Digital Editor for E! Online. A native of Hermosa Beach, California, she is a proud USC Trojan and pug mom to Wrigley the Pug (@pugofpasadena).

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