June 12, 2017
It’s been too long since I’ve seen Ann Mortifee on stage and last night, seeing her introduce her latest musical, The Mysteries at the Stanley Theater was simply joyful. Fascinated by the ancient myth of Persephone, Mortifee believes that its powerful impact on the thought leaders of western civilisation has continued through the centuries and that it continues to impact society today in a deeply problematic manner. She believes that if we can re-vision the myth the impact could change the world. Ann was recently interviewed on a local radio station where she said that, “…she was drawn to the abduction of Persephone into the underworld the goddess of spring. And her mother Demeter and how the two of them became victimized by the King of Heaven Zeus.” Ann has been interested for a long time in the history of our spiritual traditions and religions because they show how they really are a template for how we’re evolving as a species and what our capacity for thought is. In some mysterious way, the ancient myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone foreshadowed the environmental crisis that we find our world in today. Altruistic perhaps, however as the story unfolds and Mortifee skillfully weaves ancient Greece into a modern day mosaic of song and story telling, it is difficult to miss the similarities.
Assisted by the virtuosity of Ed Henderson who assisted crafting this musical with an ensemble of five talented musicians and another fifteen perfectly tuned voices to fill the roles of Persephone (Laur Fugere) , Demeter (Susan Anderson), Hekate (Ann Mortifee), Zeus (Stephen Aberle), Hades (Warren Kimmel), Hermes (Scott Perrie) and the temple initiates who are the background singers and chorus. To have her unveil her latest work in progress with a curious audience, vulnerable to their comments and criticism, spoke volumes about art and music and how it connects us to the past, present and future. It is also a living example of how well Vancouver supports and nurturers our artists for which Mortifee acknowledges that without so many funding opportunities, creating a musical of this magnitude, “…would be close to impossible”.
As I sat spellbound I couldn’t help but feel that we were in the rehearsal of a major production not quite ready for Broadway, but close. The Mysteries has some rough edges yet as it goes through the evolution of shrinking, expanding and perhaps eliminating certain parts that will allow it to grow into all that it can become. Ann and the cast stayed on stage afterwards and took feedback from over six hundred people. She says that “…it was interesting to hear the feedback and see how our production was received. A lot of people wrote to me after the show with tough criticism and wonderful feedback.” Congratulation’s to the Arts Club Theater for hosting this historic event and Ann and the cast who remained on stage after their two-hour performance to learn from the audience how they might make it better with heartfelt criticism.
I can’t wait to see this again!