Los Angeles Debuts ‘Psyche: A Modern Rock Opera’ [Review]

Los Angeles

The world premiere of Psyche: A Modern Rock Opera debuted this Labor Day weekend at the Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles. The live theatrical production is based on numerous aspects of Greek mythology, focusing primarily on the story of the human-turned-goddess, Psyche.

The official synopsis for Psyche is as follows: “Psyche: A Modern Rock Opera is based on the Greek myth that forms the basis of all princess fairy tales – Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and all others. In this allegory, Psyche represents the human soul that is purified by passion and misfortune. Only by going through difficult trials and tests can the soul be prepared for the enjoyment of true and everlasting love and happiness. Over the centuries, Psyche, the human, and her lover, the god Eros, have been represented in countless works of art. She appears usually as a maiden with the wings of a butterfly, along with Eros in different situations as described in the myth. In ancient Greece the word “psyche” meant both soul and butterfly. The butterfly is the symbol of the soul. It is the being that is reborn from a chrysalis.”

The music of Psyche features deeply intricate melodies by creator Cindy Shapiro that showcases each and every performer in the show beautifully. The show is sung-through almost entirely with small bits of dialogue that are spoken in tune with the music. Shapiro’s score features a plethora of styles that give the show an overall timeless quality that provides not only excellent storytelling, but is pleasurable to the ear as well. Although a bit repetitive at times, the majority of Shapiro’s songs are memorable and tend to remain in one’s head days after seeing the show – the curtain call number, “Love,” in particular.

Los Angeles
Katie Kitani, Benai Alicia Boyd, Ashley Ruth Jones, Cindy Sciacca and Michael Starr in ‘Psyche: A Modern Rock Opera’.

Psyche features an all-star cast with not a single weak link amongst the entire ensemble. Director Michael Matthews has used this select group of performers to their utmost potential. With beautifully fluid and original choreography by Janet Roston, finely-tuned musical direction by Jack Wall and a serene, fantastical vision for the show by Matthews, the cast of Psyche is argued to shine brighter than any other musical theatre cast in Los Angeles.

Ashley Ruth Jones carries the show as Psyche with an other-worldly vocal range and vivid emotional life that proves her worth of nothing less than a star. Michael Starr serves as the show’s leading man, Eros the god of love and sexual desire. Starr’s exuding of sexual prowess and onstage chemistry with Jones serve his character well – and the character dons a spectacular set of wings. Laura L. Thomas plays the goddess of love, Aphrodite, who is considered the show’s antagonist. Thomas’s poised presence and evident beauty lend over very well to her character, but the rage and jealously that she portrays all whilst belting out seriously difficult vocals is worth a ticket in itself.

A few more stand-out performers in the cast include vocal powerhouse, Derrian Tolden, who plays the god Apollo and the Eagle of Zeus, and Nakia Secrest, who draws in audiences with her mesmerizing performance as Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. Another stand-out is Neil Taffe, who sings the role of Zeus with a deep bass voice that is said to be so crisp it sounds like a recording. Actresses Benai Alicia Boyd and Cindy Sciacca temporarily steal the show as Psyche’s jealous sisters in their 11 o’clock number, “Fair.”

With the debut of Psyche: A Modern Rock Opera in Los Angeles, the City of Angels is getting a treat that is typically only found on the Great White Way in New York. The show is now playing at the Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles until September 28. Show times are Thursday-Saturday at 8 P.M., and Sunday at 7 P.M. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office.

Review by Cody Collier

LA Times

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