PSU operetta incorporates 'SpongeBob SquarePants'-esque humor

April 11. 2013 12:36AM

It's a look at a classic stage story, with a bit of SpongeBob SquarePants-esque humor thrown in.

Paul Mroczka, a Plymouth State University professor of theater, is directing a production of Jacques Offenbach's 19th-century comic operetta "Orpheus in the Underworld," and the show, which will take the stage at the Silver Center for the Arts in Plymouth Thursday through Sunday, April 11-14, is crafted to be a relatable musical theater romp.

The story follows Orpheus in a journey of a lifetime as he travels from Earth to Olympus and into the Hades, meeting various intriguing and unique mortals and gods along the way.

A family friendly show, Mroczka's "Orpheus in the Underworld" adaptation expands upon the mythological story of a mortal man who loses his wife, Euridice, in the Underworld and goes to retrieve her with the help of the good gods.

"The operetta is a lot of fun," Mroczka said. "It's about relationships, marriage and how fickle love can be, which is certainly something that college students and others can connect with."

Mroczka said he modeled the humor after the animated TV series "SpongeBob SquarePants," making the opera appropriate and amusing a broader range of ages.

"The comedy is totally ridiculous at times," he said. "'Orpheus in the Underworld' is a great show for anyone who wants to laugh."

Mroczka and choreographer Robin Marcotte enjoyed helping students create over- the-top, nonrealistic characters that still display elements of truth as they address the pitfalls of marriage, boredom, pride and insincerity. It's a big show, featuring 32 cast members, close to 100 costumes and many projections and lighting effects.

The cast includes lead players Michael Dodge, a junior vocal performance major from Northwood, playing Orpheus; Lisa Hansen, a senior vocal performance and music education major from Nashua, playing Euridice; Jason Faria, a junior theater arts major from Hudson, Mass., playing Aristeus/Pluto; Bradford Dumont, a senior vocal performance and music education major from Rochester, playing Jupiter/Ensemble alternate performances and Eben Brown, a senior music education major from Dorchester, also playing Jupiter/Ensemble in alternate performances.

"This is the ideal opportunity for all ages to experience an opera, as PSU only produces a show of this scope about every three years," Mroczka said.

A 13-piece orchestra brings a vibrant energy to the already lively singing and dancing. Justin McCarthy, whose past PSU credits include "The Drowsy Chaperone" and "Little Women," conducts the orchestra. Music director is PSU Music Department Professor Kathleen Arecchi, director of voice. The production is presented by the Plymouth State University theater program, a division of the department of music, theatre and dance at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $16 for youth at the box office at 535-2787 or (800) 779-3869 or online at


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