Over the last several years, budget concerns have driven local theater companies to produce plays and musicals with smaller and smaller casts.
But Artpark, which has just announced an original musical adaptation of "The Odyssey" planned for August, is heading in the opposite direction.
Its production will feature 150 cast members recruited from across Western New York, who will perform alongside Terence Archie (best known for playing Apollo Creed in the Broadway version of "Rocky") and Emily Skinner ("Jekyll & Hyde"). Roger Danforth of New York City's Drama League will direct.
The piece stands in stark contrast to the popular Disney musicals Artpark was known for producing before suspending its summer musical program in recent years.
"Inspired by the nationally recognized program Public Works built by New York City’s Public Theater, the program seeks to engage audiences in new ways by making them creators and not just spectators," according to a release from the Lewiston venue. "Working deeply with community‐based organizations, Artpark invites a wide diversity of people to participate in workshops and classes, attend performances, and to join in the creation of an ambitious work of participatory theater led by working theater professionals."
Auditions for the show will be held on from 2 to 4 p.m. April 14 in Artpark's Mainstage Theater.
Artpark is recruiting potential cast members from many local social service organizations, including People, Inc., the Veterans One-Stop Center of Western New York and the Buffalo Public Schools Center for Adult Education. They will join cast members drawn from many other businesses and organizations.
Chosen cast members will participate in a four-month training program overseen by Buffalo performers Paschal Frisina III and Tony Dentico. The performances are slated for Aug. 4 and 5.