MONMOUTH — It was a sad day for one of Odysseus’ soldiers, eaten alive by the Cyclops.
“Poor Antitheses!” one soldier shouted. “We’re all going to die!” shouted another.
But Odysseus’ quick thinking and wit helped save the day, lulling the monster to sleep before he could eat anther Greek. After stabbing the giant in its eye, the soldiers made a rapid exit from his cave.
These soldiers are young actors in grades two through eight who are part of Apple Box Theater’s production of “The Odyssey.”
This is the fourth year the theater troupe has been active, and the biggest cast of kids.
For Odysseus, played by Chase Magill, the fluency of his words was the toughest part about acting.
“My family speaks fast, so I had to slow down a lot,” he said.
Magill, 12, said the Cyclops scene, performed on Thursday at Main Street Park in Monmouth as part of the Fourth of July festivities, works out pretty well. Only one of his soldiers gets eaten, after all.
“It’s very brutal as you can tell,” said Shane Mickelson, who plays Hades.
Mickelson, 13, likes his character, even though he isn’t in very many scenes.
“He has some good speaking parts,” he said. “He’s kind of eccentric. He kind of over-exaggerates stuff.”
In the production, 36 children play Greek soldiers, Greek gods, citizens and sheep.
Each one seems to have endless energy, bouncing and dancing offstage waiting for showtime.
Director Rob Harriman said the production is a group effort, with lots of help from parents and volunteers.
Each year, they choose a classic tale.
“There’s so much ridiculous kid’s literature,” said production manager Barbara Harriman. “We want to expose them to classic literature.”
So far, “The Odyssey” is Rob Harriman’s favorite.
“I’m really into Greek mythology,” he said. “I think Greek mythology is making a comeback.”
That’s lucky for him, as it gave him lots of ideas and props from local college theater programs.
The Cyclops puppet was loaned to Apple Box from Portland Community College, built by Vicki Wilson, Portland State University professor, and John Larson, web designer, musician and visual artist.
Another monster, the six-headed Scylla, was created by Mary Harden, art professor at Western Oregon University.
The production, staged in full this weekend in Monmouth, is funded through a grant from the Polk County Cultural Coalition and produced by volunteers.
Check It Out
What: “The Odyssey,” presented by Apple Box Children’s Theater.
When: Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. A dress rehearsal is scheduled Thursday at 7 p.m.
Where: Rice Auditorium Outdoor Stage, corner of Warren and Powell streets, Western Oregon University, Monmouth.
For more information: www.facebook.com/appleboxtheater; email to firstname.lastname@example.org.