Broadway has no shortage of Classics-inspired musicals this season. Hadestown, an adaptation of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice won two Tonys, including best musical. For fans of Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief opened on Broadway in October. The creators of Mythic now playing at the Segal Centre, hope for the same kind of success. The show is a fresh take on the well-known and oft-adapted story of Persephone (Julia McLellan), whose title character disappears into the underworld and is subsequently reunited with her mother, Demeter (Heather McGuigan). Breathing fresh life into a story that is thousands of years old requires substantial effort and imagination. Mythic appeals to modern viewers by linking the ancient Greek deities to a modern cultural equivalent: Pop music gods. Zeus (Aadin Church), wearing at least three different sparkly jackets and oversized shades while wailing on an equally bedazzled piano evokes Elton John; Aphrodite (Jessica Gallant) brings a Beyoncé-inspired flair with a Greek chorus of backup dancers, and Hades (James Daly) has an edgy-yet-approachable Brendan Urie look.
Persephone, on the other hand, is a down-to-earth teenage girl struggling to define herself in the shadow of her mother. Demeter is a Donna Sheridan–esque bohemian mother who, after becoming disenchanted with life as a god, left Olympus to raise Persephone on earth. After sneaking into a party at the Acropolis, Persephone meets Aphrodite and becomes entangled with bad boy Hades. The encounter leads to an unfortunate hookup that results in her becoming stranded in the underworld.
The play is full of tropes, as one might expect from an archetypal story used to explain the origin of seasons, but what makes Mythic lovable is that it recognizes and leans into them. Hades’s long coat , skinny jeans, and combat boots—all black—might seem like a costume version of the brooding and often sinister Montreal softboy. It is this self-awareness that makes Mythic fun. What better way to make a clichéd story relevant than by including our very own modern clichés. Zeus himself proclaims his arrival as a “deus ex machina” (a Latin phrase used to describe the unlikely and very convenient appearance of a god to solve problems in Greek theatre). The set and lighting reflect the pop-rock spirit of the show as well—flashing lights and scaffolding set pieces make each song feel as much like seeing a concert as seeing a musical.
Mythic is as much a story about parenthood as it is about romance or the origin of winter. All the main characters have strained relationships with their parents or children: Persephone struggles in Demeter’s shadow, and Aphrodite yearns for Zeus’s approval before realizing that she has greater worth as her own person. Not to mention that Zeus and his siblings murdered their own parents, the Titans. The Gods, though immortal, find themselves growing up and swearing that they will be better than their parents, only to slowly realize that they are no better. However, each one of them remembers that their parents were doing their best, a theme that weaves its way through the dialogue and songs, so that no one character comes out as the villain.
Mythic takes an aeons old story and continues the tradition of remix and adaptation of Greek mythology so that it continues to be a living story that is interesting and relevant. With fun characters, music that is both catchy and emotionally charged, and a talented cast, Mythic will please romance, theatre, and Classics aficionados alike.
Mythic will run until Nov. 24 at the Segal Theatre.