JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—The lights dim, and actors run to their places as the final practice begins before the opening night.
The crew stands off to the side, watching with excitement and anticipation.
“This is a professional piece of theater through and through, and my heart sings for people to enjoy it the way that I do,” Swisher Theater Director Erik DeCicco says as he watches from off stage.
Jacksonville University’s theater department begins its 2021 season with the play Metamorphoses written by Mary Zimmerman and performed at the Swisher Theater.
Photograph of actors on set. Courtesy of Brianna Osgood.
“The premise behind the show is metamorphosis,” DeCicco said. “It’s based on Ovid’s original Greek poems, and they have been reworked into vignettes about Greek gods that people will be familiar with. Some characters they might not be familiar with, but each of their story’s centers around change.”
According to Metamorphoses: The Play, the scene is positioned in and around a large pool on the stage; the characters enact Zimmerman’s adaptations of Ovid’s tales, juxtaposing the ancient and the contemporary in both language and image. The show contains adult subject matter, including alcohol abuse, sexual intimacy, and other charged issues and concepts.
The crew and cast have been working on production through the summer and five times a week for the last six weeks. DeCicco says he challenged his students in 2020, most of whom were sophomores at the time, to pick a show that would become their senior project. He wanted them to work on something that they would be proud of.
Jeremy Ferri, a Junior at JU and cast member, says he enjoyed working on the show with the director and fellow castmates.
“Preparing for the opening night has been enjoyable and fast pace,” Ferri said.
Ferri plays a few different characters in the show, including Cexy, Orpheus, Apollo, A, and Philamom.
“The casting process was complicated because our students are insanely talented,” DeCicco said. “Every actor plays multiple characters, so because they are so talented, it took a lot of thought and energy in the selection process.”
When asked why should his fellow students attend the play, Ferri answered with the utmost passion and enthusiasm.
“It’s not Shakespeare and boring,” Ferri said. “It’s more mythology and entertaining. It tells a story you want to listen to. It’s ghost telling the tale of their lives!”
Metamorphoses showtimes are September 24 and 25 at 7:30 pm and the 26 at 2 pm. The show runs a full 75 minutes without intermission. It is strongly advised to get comfortable before seating. The audience sits on stage as the cast performs. They become part of the story making process which makes the audience feel involved.
DeCicco says the play is geared towards an adult audience due to many themes and contexts not suitable for children or those under 18. Admission for the general public is $10. If you are a student or faculty member admission is free.
“It’s a labor of love, and I think everyone will see and feel that in the production,” said DeCicco.