Youth Musical Homeward Bound
Each year in March, the Greenbelt Recreation Department presents a youth musical. Participants come from area middle and high schools, and they practice in the evenings and on weekends. In 2012 the musical is “Homeward Bound” based on Homer’s epic “The Odyssey.” The book, music, lyrics and stage direction are written by Christopher Cherry. I attended the performance on March 10 at the Community Center.
The play opens with Lord Antinous and Lord Amphinomus (two suitors of Penelope, in red) leading the Ithacans in singing, “We’re Ready For A Marvelous Party.”
Penelope (Christin Wright) sings “Happy Anniversary” to her husband Odysseus who has gone to fight in the Trojan War many years ago.
On his voyage, Odysseus travels through many places. Here on the Island of the Winds, he is warmly received by Aeolus (center, James Fahey), King of the Winds, with two of the Winds.
Odysseus (back row, Benjamin Shaw) and his sailors sing “Homeward Bound,” a theme song of the musical. In his hand is a bag that the King of the Winds gave him. It contains captured winds so that the gentle West Wind can easily blow them home to Ithaca.
Of course, Odysseus’s sailors are too curious to keep the bag closed. They open it and all the winds escape and blow them off course to the Land of the Lotus Eaters. Here Eurylochus (right, Odysseus’s first mate, Sam Goldstein) eats lotus, a fruit that causes forgetfulness. From left are Lady Lotus (Jillian Schneider), Smithers (a butler, Jack Brittan-Powell), and Lord Lotus (Jeremy Tuthill).
While Odysseus is away, the suitors are in Ithaca pursuing his wife Penelope. During the day she weaves a shroud and at night she undoes it. Here Penelope, her housekeeper and maids sing “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done.”
Odysseus and his sailors next arrive at the Island of the Cyclops. A Cyclops is a giant with a single eye in the middle of his forehead.
The Cyclops (Mitchel Noone-Meng) confines Odysseus and his sailors in his cave with a big rock, and the clever Odysseus tricks him to remove it by playing a ball game. The song is “Keep Your Eye On the Ball.”
The next destination is Laestrygonia where the Laestrygonians, a tribe of cannibals, prepare to eat Odysseus and his crew for dinner. They sing “Men Are On The Menu.” Here Eurylochus presents the cannibals with lotus from the Lotus Eaters before escaping.
Penelope sings “He Never Wanted To Go.” On the left is Telemachus (Isaac Solomon), her son with Odysseus.
The second half opens with the Lord Antinous and Lord Amphinomus leading the Ithacans in singing “It’s A Beautiful Day.”
Telemachus goes on a voyage of his own and visits the royal court of Sparta. He meets Menelaus, King of Sparta, Helen, Queen of Sparta, and the Seven Lovely Daughters of Queen Helen of Troy. He hears about the story of the Trojan War and his father’s adventures.
Next, Odysseus and his men are on the Island of Aeaea, home of Circe, the beautiful enchantress. Here the sailors meet two of Circe’s animals, a wolf (left, Scott Candey) and a lion (David Gardner).
Circe (Flavia Perrotta) sings “Men Are Pigs.”
Eurylochus has been transformed by Circe into a pig.
To save Eurylochus, Odysseus visits the Underworld and meets spirits and his deceased mother. She tells him about happenings in Ithaca after he left for the war and Penelope’s plight with the suitors.
Odysseus also encounters his fallen comrades–Achilles, Ajax, and Agamemnon.
He bids adieu to Circe. She implores him to stay and sings “Stay With Me.” He is heartbroken and replies with “You Are The Someone I’ll Never Forget.”
Before they part, Circe tells Odysseus of three dangers on his way home: first, the Sirens, second the sea monster Scylla, and third, the Golden Apple. Here Odysseus asks his sailors to plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast, so he can listen to the Sirens’ seducing songs. The Sirens are played by from left Flavia Perrotta, Kaisa Nichols-Russell, and Alma Knutson.
The next danger is the sea monster Scylla. Here Eurylochus is putting on the helmet of Archilles so that he can attract the attention of Scylla. He sacrifices himself.
While Odysseus is praying, his men ignore his warning and pick the Golden Apple.
In the ensuing storm, all of Odysseus’s sailors were drowned.
Odysseus finally returns to Ithaca and meets his housekeeper Eurycleia (Emily Winner) whom he has not seen for 19 years.
A funeral is held for Odysseus, and his suitors try to string the bow that Odysseus left behind to win the hand of Penelope. They cannot.
Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tells the story of Baucis and Philemon, an elderly couple who was kind enough to host a pair of visitors, not knowing that they are actually Zeus and Hermes.
Odysseus strings his bow and is recognized by everyone.
Not all is lost for the suitors. Instead of being shot by Odysseus as in Home’s epic, here they marry Penelope’s maids.
Telemachus returns with Circe!
After 19 years, Penelope and Odysseus are together.
They sing “I Dreamed Last Night” and “Homeward Bound.”
After the show, Chris Cherry, who wrote the book, music, lyrics, and stage direction of “Homeward Bound,” is congratulated by everyone.
Chris Cherry is a recreation coordinator for the City of Greenbelt. He also teaches at the Academy for Classical Acting, the graduate-level actor training program of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., and has taught at the city’s Creative Kids Camp. He has written several plays and has used classical themes in some of them. Last year, the youth musical was his “The School for Super-Heroes Presents Orlando Furioso,” and several years ago his “Perseus and the Gorgon” based on Greek mythology was performed. Cherry was trained as a lawyer but now is happily engaged in his many artistic pursuits.