Last night was my first experience at the Illusion Theater in downtown Minneapolis. Although I had been in the Hennepin Center for the Arts building before, I was impressed by the lobby on the 8th floor along with the views of the city. The theater itself is intimate and I liked the stage set up.
Never having attended the venue or a Fresh Inc. series, I was pleasantly surprised by “A Night in Olympus”. The actors were given ten days to develop their characters, learn lines and music, pick up movement, and make it all flow together. They did a superb job making this happen. The performers had their scripts for help but it was not a distraction at all.
Maggie (Jessica Fredrickson) is a girl who has a great heart but is overlooked because she does not possess outward beauty. Her best friend Harry (Tyler Michaels) likes her just the way she is. They both enjoy zombie flicks and bond over geeky things. Maggie asks a Greek goddess to grant her a wish to be beautiful, go to Prom with Chad (the most popular and handsome guy in school), and take a picture she can always cherish. In doing so Maggie’s world changes and so do the lives of the people who surround her.
The cast is small and many of the actors play multiple parts. Aleks Knezevich plays Janitor Rolfe and Chad. He was a cut above the rest with his character roles and strong voice. The first time I saw him was in H.M.S Pinafore and I knew right away he had a natural talent and was a strong performer. When playing Chad he is the cocky jock who loves himself more than anyone else. He and Maggie (Jessica) sing a song about seeing reflections in eyes. Maggie wants Chad to kiss her while gazing into each others eyes. Chad sees his reflection and is mesmerized by his own beauty. Tyler Michaels (Harry) is striking. His facial expressions, movement, and acting ability never cease to amaze me. When I saw him in “Spring Awakening” I was blown away by the way he moved around the stage. He seems to have a body that can be thrown every which way with ease. In “A Night in Olympus” he is able to do some robot and dance moves that show off his skills very well. When watching the two men perform I couldn’t help but smile. One thing I love is seeing people in their element. These two were clearly doing what they love.
The play is a mix of emotional, fun, quirky, and story songs. The second Act opening song about photography is a great one. I enjoyed listening to the lyrics with the silly words and rhymes. The ensemble did a great job performing the piece together. The final song of the show about beauty was harmonized very well and it was nice to see the entire cast lined up together.
For a refreshing piece I suggest going to see “A Night in Olympus”. It is an interesting show with a great cast. The fact that the actors were given only 10 days to prepare shows the talent they have to perfect their performances. Tickets are $15 and more information can be found on the Illusion Theaters website: http://illusiontheater.org/