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Transylvania University Theater presents classic Greek tragedy as a rock opera with original score.

The Bakkhai

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Drama professor Tim Soulis and Transylvania student actors continue to put a new spin on classic plays with their 2010-11 season opener, Euripides’ “The Bakkhai” – presented as a rock opera. In recent years, Transylvania University Theater has presented “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” with male and female cast members switching roles on alternating nights, and had two different casts, one entirely male and one entirely female, for Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

“The Bakkhai” was written by Greek playwright Euripides around 405 BCE. It’s the explosive story of the ageless clash between liberty and control featuring Dionysus, the god of wine, determined to prove to the people that he is, in fact, a god. The Transy production is the premiere of a new, rock opera version of the play. There are six songs performed by the actors who are backed by live musicians on stage. The story, characters and themes of the original play are maintained, but updated to fit a modern setting and atmosphere. The rock music helps to suggest the intoxicating and liberating nature of rebelling against convention and seeking a life free of inhibitions. Sophomore Alex Yaden has arranged the music for keyboard, bass guitar and percussion and senior Ashley Stafford has choreographed each of the songs.

“The original adaptation, lyrics and music is by Khalli Anna Mossi, a retired professor in Greece and a sort of ‘muse’ to me,” said director Tim Soulis. “I met her when on sabbatical in Greece some eight years ago, and have maintained communication ever since. When I mentioned I was hoping to do “The Bakkhai,” she said she had been working on a rock opera version in English. The result is now on the stage at Little Theater. The play really rocks, and the idea of doing a completely original version with music and dancing has been a creatively challenging but richly rewarding experience for us all.”

The show runs Nov. 4 and 5 and 11-13 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 6 and 7 at 2 p.m. in the Lucille C. Little Theater. A post-performance colloquia on the play will begin immediately following the matinees on Nov. 6 and 7. Tickets are $10 and may be reserved by calling the box office at (859) 281-3621. For more information, contact the fine arts office at (859) 233-8141.