California University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Music and Theatre will bring some humor to the stage this weekend when they present “Saving the Greeks: One Tragedy at a Time.”

According to the university’s theater department, “Saving the Greeks” is “a breezy comedy full of laugh-out-loud merriment that pays homage to the melodramatic absurdity that is Greek tragedy.”

The production is the tale of Dialysis and his slave, Peon, as they try to make right all of the things done to the citizens of Athens. In doing so, the two create a city where people can restart their lives.

Dr. John Paul Staszel, director and assistant professor in the Department of Music and Theatre, said this is not a traditional musical, but rather a play that has music.

“This production was suggested to me, and it has been done in the past here,” he said. “Our students have been working tirelessly to bring some of the most popular tragic Greek heroes to life while staying true to some ancient Greek comedic performance practices.”

Staszel added that he felt this was a good fit because of the curricular connection that it has with the Theater History I and Theater History II courses this semester.

“This academic year, we are focusing on theater history, and with the connections to ancient Greek tragedies, this fits perfectly,” he said.

The subject matter in the production offers mature content and themes which may not be suitable for younger patrons, but Staszel said the students are enjoying exploring things with more of an adult theme since coming from a more family-friendly setting before college.

“I think the adult humor is enjoyable to the cast, and it’s a fun transition of content than what was considered acceptable for high school,” he said.

EJ Christopher, assistant director for the production, said his focus on the production had a lot to do with giving the actors the opportunity to find their physicality and vocal qualities for their characters.

“I used a lot of my prior experience in the Chekhov acting method and the Estill voice model to help assist in giving the actors the opportunity to discover different things they could do with their voice and body to develop not only believable characters, but also larger than life characters,” he said.

Christopher added that he’s grateful for the opportunity Staszel has given him on this production.

“The actors are incredible, and if you want to experience 90 minutes of gut-busting laughter, this is the show for you,” he said.

Curtain times for the 23rd annual First Year Show are 7 p.m. Oct. 24-25, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 26. The show is open to the public and will be performed in the Gerald and Carolyn Blaney Theatre in Steele Hall.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for those 60 and older and 12 and younger. Cal U students with valid CalCards pay a $5 deposit that is refunded at the show.

For ticket information, or to charge tickets by phone, call the Steele Hall Box Office at 724-938-5943.

Keeping with the Greek theme, since the word cereal comes from Ceres, the Greek goddess of agriculture, the cast is partnering with Greek Life and the Cal U Cupboard for a breakfast food drive. Nonperishable breakfast food items may be dropped off at the door before the show.

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