It’s so rare when I leave a show and just can’t stop smiling, and that happened after I attended the ‘new’ commissioned musical called Orphie and the Book of Heroes at The Kennedy Center’s Family Theater. What a great time the kids, their parents, and I had, watching seven of my favorite local actors who play many characters: Christopher Bloch, Paul Scanlan, Gia Mora, Samuel Edgerly, Lauren Du Pree, Evan Casey, and the perfect scary villain – Thomas Adrian Simpson – light up the stage and also teach the young audience members (and their parents) about Greek Mythology and some valuable life-lessons. Joe Calarco has lovingly directed Orphie and the Book of Heroes and his talented cast really delivers a great time for kids and adults.
Filled with great songs (The song “Misery” is one I am still humming) by Michael Kooman (music) and Christopher Dimond (lyrics), and a clever, fun, and intelligent book by Mr. Dimond (filled with hysterical gems!), Orphie and the Book of Heroes is a blast – a great way to spend the afternoon with every member of the family. We are in Ancient Greece with the multi-talented Lauren Du Pree who plays Orphie, an orphaned girl who is a fan of Homer (an elegant Christopher Bloch), who takes her in as part of his family. Orphie admires Homer’s work but is not so thrilled that he hasn’t written a story that features a feminine hero. When Homer is threatened by the very evil Hades (the devilish Thomas Adrian Simpson) Orphie is faced with saving Homer and becomes that heroine she has been yearning for. And along her Odyssey, she meets some of the most famous characters in Homer’s works like The Sirens (Scanlan, Edgerly, and Casey), who sing the infectious “To Be a Siren” (the audience roared with laughter), and the unhappy Persephone (the lovely Mora), Hermes (Edgerly), and Heracles (Casey), who provides my favorite highlight – the scene-stealing “He’s the Man”- a ‘Beauty and the Beast-like “Gaston,” filled with arrogance and self-adoration. There are so many highlights that I better stop now or I will give it all away. Kudos to Tony Cisek for his clever set and to Timm Burrow for his colorful and often humorous costumes, Jenny Cartney for her wonderful musical direction, Karma Camp for her high-energy choreography, the effective lighting by Dan Covey, crisp sound design by Matt Rowe, and the puppetry by Ingrid Crepeau. I was floored by having so many of our finest actors, singers, designers, and my favorite director working on this terrific show.
Be a hero and grab your kids and get them to The Kennedy Center’s Family Theater to see Orphie and the Book of Heroes. Chocked with valuable lessons, this exciting and entertaining new musical is a rare treat not to be missed! Running Time: 75 minutes, without an intermission. Orphie and the Book of Heroes plays through February 25, 2014 at The Kennedy Center’s Family Theatre – 2700 F Street, NW in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 467-4600, or purchase them online.