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The Getty Museum and Playwrights’ Arena announced the cast for Euripides’ Helen this month, the seventh annual outdoor theatrical production in the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. Presenting a surprising twist on the legend of Helen of Troy, Euripides’ rarely performed Helen will feature Rachel Sorsa in the title role and Maxwell Caulfield as Menelaos. Directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, artistic director of Los Angeles-based Playwrights’ Arena, this production debuts a new adaptation by playwright Nick Salamone and a score by composer and musical director David O.
Performances of Euripides’ Helen will be held Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 6 through 29 at 8 p.m., with previews from Aug. 30 through Sept. 1. Tickets are $42 ($38 for students and seniors, $25 for preview performances). Tickets and further information are available by calling (310) 440-7300 or online at www.getty.edu.
"We are thrilled to have a great cast of talented actors in place and to begin working together on this production of Helen," said director Jon Lawrence Rivera. "We are especially blessed to have two featured actors—Rachel Sorsa and Maxwell Caulfield, our Helen and Menelaos—who are as witty and complex as the characters Euripides presents in this remarkable play. I expect that Nick Salamone’s wonderful adaptation will prove a revelation to theater-goers who thought they 'knew' Euripides—he never ceases to surprise us."
Rachel Sorsa is an award-winning actress and singer. Her stage credits include Del Shores’ multi-award winning Yellow (LA Weekly Theatre and Drama Critics Circle Awards), Angel Street, Twentieth Century, and James Still's Searching for Eden: the diaries of adam and eve. She can be seen in Del Shores’ upcoming film Blues for Willadean with Octavia Spencer, Beth Grant, and Dale Dickey. Ms. Sorsa received her BA in Theatre and Drama from The University of Michigan School of Music, MA in Theatre from Michigan State University and Ph.D (ABD) in Theatre History and Criticism from the University of Texas in Austin.
Maxwell Caulfield has appeared on Broadway in Chicago and An Inspector Calls. His Off-Broadway credits include Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Class Enemy, My Deah, and Tryst. Caulfield also appeared in Loot at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. His film and television credits include Grease 2, The Boys Next Door, Empire Records, Gettysburg, The Colbys, and Dynasty.
In this version of Helen’s story, written just three years after his Trojan Women, Euripides’ heroine is no wanton seductress, but rather a faithful wife and innocent victim of Olympian plots. By a trick of the gods, this Helen never travels to Troy at all, but is replaced by a phantom double before she can be kidnapped by the Trojan prince Paris. Magically transported by Hermes to the far off island of Pharos for safekeeping, the real Queen Helen waits out the Trojan War in an ironic celibacy, far from the battle.
Euripides’ play picks up Helen’s story seventeen years later, as the now middle-aged queen, ignorant of the war’s terrible toll, awaits rescue from the island by her husband Menelaos as the gods have promised her. When rumor reaches her that Menelaos is dead, Helen is forced to take matters into her own hands and the plot quickens with mistaken identities, daredevil escapes, and the inevitable deus ex machina.
The Getty Villa's annual outdoor theater production is part of a year-round innovative theater program that enhances the museum visitor's experience of the ancient world. Live performances of classical drama offer insight into the social, cultural, and political realities of life in ancient Greece and Rome. In the galleries, the works of art serve to deepen the connection between modern audiences and the mythical stories underlying the tragedies and comedies on stage.
The Cast of Euripides’ Helen
Helen, queen of Sparta Rachel Sorsa
Menelaos, king of Sparta Maxwell Caulfield
Theoclymenus, ruler of Pharos Chil Kong
Theonoe, devotee of Artemis, sister of Theoclymenus Natsuko Ohama
Hattie, slave to Theoclymenus and Theonoe Carlease Burke
Lady, chorus Melody Butiu
Cleo, chorus Arséne DeLay
Cherry, chorus Jayme Lake
Old Soldier, follower of Menelaos Robert Almodovar
Teucer, wounded veteran, younger brother of the war hero Ajax Christopher Rivas
Additional information is available at www.getty.edu.