Luke Burgess portrays Helios during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Luke Burgess portrays Helios during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

‘Zeusical’ brings Greek mythology, and souvlakis, to Kenai Performers’ stage

The recognizable names and iconic figures of Greek mythology are filling the Kenai Performers’ theater this month as the group prepares to put on “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical,” which opens Jan. 19 and runs for three weekends.

Director Terri Burdick said Saturday that the show is a fantasy — depicting a variety of mythological tales starring Greek gods and monsters — but it’s set in a modern setting. Zeus and Hera own the Mt. Olympus Diner, where the food is great, but people really come for the traditional storytelling.

The diner serves as a framing device for the musical, as different characters come and go to grab a bite and share tales and songs between scenes of an overarching narrative where television star food critic Sparky Guy visits the diner.

The world of the musical is one where Helios stops by for an early morning cup of coffee before bringing the sun over the horizon, where shipments of tomatoes are delivered by the Amazons, and where many a souvlaki is slung.

Central to many of the stories are Zeus and Hera — portrayed respectively by David Brighton and Terri Zopf-Schoessler. They double as a silly, squabbling couple and as mythic, powerful figures.

Brighton said embodying the “leading presence” of Zeus was intimidating — the largest role he’s had in a stage production — but also that he found a lot of fun in the over-the-top character.

“It’s loaded full of dad jokes and silliness,” he said.

Zopf-Schoessler said she’s been excited to see Greece come together in the group’s Kalifornsky Beach Road theater — crediting Burdick with designing the costumes and finding the “dichotomy between the old and the new.”

Adapting the familiar mythology in a family friendly light was a major draw of the show, she said.

Working for Zeus and Hera are Kassándra Feltman and Heather Prisk as Pandora and Cassandra, the two staff members at the diner.

Feltman said, like Zopf-Schoessler, she enjoys “Zeusical” because it presents familiar — and favorite — stories with a modern spin. She and Prisk have worked closely together to experiment with their combined dynamic as service workers in a fantastical world.

“We wanted to play Pandora and Cassandra as best friends,” Feltman said. “We’re building that relationship and making it seem real — it is real to us.”

Prisk said she’s the introverted one — who prefers to stay in the back of the kitchen. The pair are juxtaposed but also complement one another.

In “Zeusical,” Prisk said she’s seeing her own growth and that of some of her fellow actors. She said she spent a lot of time with Brighton when they worked together in “Jekyll and Hyde” late last year, now both of them are playing larger roles in a show with a radically different tone.

“Every show is different,” she said, and each show is an opportunity to grow and to learn from the other actors.

“It’s been really nice with this group of people,” Feltman said. “Everyone is willing to put in the effort and to learn more about what they’re doing — it’s really awesome to see people who have never done this before put themselves out there.”

Lara Lindeman, who plays both Demeter and Athena, echoed that sentiment, saying that her experience and the quality of “Zeusical” has been enriched by a certain sense of continuity — actors seeking out opportunities to work with one another again across multiple productions — as well as the production’s willingness to take advantage of the varied perspectives present in the cast.

She pointed to preexisting connections from her involvement in recent Kenai Performers’ shows like acting in “Disaster!” or helping behind the scenes in “The Lion King Jr.,” but also new connections being built in rehearsals as “Zeusical” comes together.

In the cast of “Zeusical,” Lindeman says she sees an “intentional” effort to create opportunities for intergenerational mentoring. She pointed to the diversity of the cast — retired teachers working alongside teenagers as peers — as “investing in the future.”

She said it was exciting to see the young actors facing intellectual and emotional challenges and experiencing growth in a safe environment like that created in the theater production — but also that the adults can learn just as much from the new ideas brought by their peers.

“Sometimes they come bouncing in — I wish I had some of that energy — and they have ideas that we might not think about,” she said.

Creating a space where those diverse voices can speak equally, like Lindeman said she’s seen on the set of “Zeusical,” allows the actors to create a depiction of “more authentic life.”

That “authentic” portrayal of Greek mythology will arrive in the Kenai Performers’ theater on Friday, Jan. 19. The show will run for three weekends, with the last show on Feb. 4. Friday and Saturday shows will be at 7 p.m., Sunday shows will be a matinee at 2 p.m.

Burdick said that “Zeusical” is a great option for families, relatively short and certainly funny.

Feltman said there will be a lot of excitement to be had seeing familiar local actors taking on “classic Greek mythical characters.”

Prisk said she is eagerly anticipating, and expecting, the sound of a laughing audience.

“People are going to have fun with it,” she said.

For more information, find “Kenai Performers” on Facebook. To purchase tickets, visit kenaiperformers.org.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

David Brighton portrays Zeus during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

David Brighton portrays Zeus during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

David Brighton, Cora Frazier, Lara Lindeman and James Starkloff rehearse “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

David Brighton, Cora Frazier, Lara Lindeman and James Starkloff rehearse “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

David Brighton portrays Zeus and Todd Sherwood portrays Sparky Guy during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

David Brighton portrays Zeus and Todd Sherwood portrays Sparky Guy during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kassándra Feltman portrays Pandora and Heather Prisk portrays Cassandra during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kassándra Feltman portrays Pandora and Heather Prisk portrays Cassandra during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Gage Sturman portrays Narcissus and Todd Sherwood portrays Sparky Guy during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Gage Sturman portrays Narcissus and Todd Sherwood portrays Sparky Guy during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

David Brighton portrays Zeus and Gage Sturman portrays Narcissus during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

David Brighton portrays Zeus and Gage Sturman portrays Narcissus during a rehearsal of “Greece is the Word: The Zeusical” at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

More in Life

File
Minister’s Message: How to grow old and not waste your life

At its core, the Bible speaks a great deal about the time allotted for one’s life

Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura and Stephen McKinley Henderson appear in “Civil War.” (Promotional photo courtesy A24)
Review: An unexpected battle for empathy in ‘Civil War’

Garland’s new film comments on political and personal divisions through a unique lens of conflict on American soil

What are almost certainly members of the Grönroos family pose in front of their Anchor Point home in this undated photograph courtesy of William Wade Carroll. The cabin was built in about 1903-04 just north of the mouth of the Anchor River.
Fresh Start: The Grönroos Family Story— Part 2

The five-member Grönroos family immigrated from Finland to Alaska in 1903 and 1904

Aurora Bukac is Alice in a rehearsal of Seward High School Theatre Collective’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska, on Thursday, April 11, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward in ‘Wonderland’

Seward High School Theatre Collective celebrates resurgence of theater on Eastern Kenai Peninsula

These poppy seed muffins are enhanced with the flavor of almonds. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
The smell of almonds and early mornings

These almond poppy seed muffins are quick and easy to make and great for early mornings

Bill Holt tells a fishing tale at Odie’s Deli on Friday, June 2, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. Holt was among the seven storytellers in the latest session of True Tales Told Live, an occasional storytelling event co-founded by Pegge Erkeneff, Jenny Nyman, and Kaitlin Vadla. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion file)
Storytelling series returns with tales about ‘making the most of it’

The next True Tales, Told Live will be held Friday, April 12 at The Goods Sustainable Grocery starting at 6:30 p.m.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes they come back

This following historical incident resurfaced during dinner last week when we were matching, “Hey, do you remember when…?” gotchas

Art by Soldotna High School student Emily Day is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Creating art and artists

Exhibition showcases student talent and local art programs

The Canadian steamship Princess Victoria collided with an American vessel, the S.S. Admiral Sampson, which sank quickly in Puget Sound in August 1914. (Otto T. Frasch photo, copyright by David C. Chapman, “O.T. Frasch, Seattle” webpage)
Fresh Start: The Grönroos Family Story — Part 1

The Grönroos family settled just north of the mouth of the Anchor River

Most Read