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Theater to present six Greek myths

Drunkenness. Greek gods. Mythological tales.

The Rainbow Company Youth Theatre will perform Mary Zimmerman’s “Metamorphoses” through Sunday at the Reed Whipple Cultural Center, 821 Las Vegas Blvd. North .

The Broadway play, which premiered in 1996 as “Six Myths” at Northwestern University, is a contemporary retelling of best-known Greek myths such as King Midas, who turns everything to gold with one touch. His story is told by three laundresses — offering a unique viewpoint to the story.

The full collection of myths is staged as a series of vignettes to explain the creation of the world, the ages of man and the rivalry between gods and mortals, among other stories.

Zimmerman adapted the dramedy from the Roman poet, Ovid. His poetry influenced European art and literature and is considered to be one of the most important sources of classical mythology.

“Metamorphoses” is a hexameter poem, which is a metrical line of verse consisting of six feet. According to online reports, it was the standard epic meter in classical Greek and Latin literature.

According to Greek mythology, the hexameter was invented by the god Hermes, the great messenger of the gods and a guide to the Underworld.

Karen McKenney, Rainbow Company Youth Theatre artistic director, mentors the play’s two student costume designers, who are spending 30 hours a week to make sure the actors look their best.

Professional department directors and designers guide the students, but company members work independently.

“We discuss the principles of design and how that applies to this performance,” said McKenney, who has served as artistic director since 1992. “They needed to think about what kind of statement they wanted to make with the costumes and come up with a concept.”

Designers came up with a base costume that actors could add appropriate pieces to depending on the scene. Some actors play more than one role.

“For a more contemporary feel, they might wear a more contemporary piece,” McKenney said. “That could change for a more ancient setting.”

Her designers were allowed to create unrelated pieces but needed an overall arc that would tie the show together designwise , she added.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for teens and seniors and $3 for children 12 or younger. Tickets can be purchased online at artslasvegas.org or by phone at 229-6553 or 229-6383.

The company is in its 34th season and is one of the longest-running cultural outlets in the city. The program is operated by the city of Las Vegas’ Office of Cultural Affairs and trains young people, ages 10 to 18, to become professional performers.

Forty students are selected yearly by open auditions. Each member works in all aspects of production from costumes to make up, sets to lights and sound, among other backstage crew responsibilities.

The program was selected as Nickelodeon Parents’ Pick Winner Best Theatre Group for Kids in 2009 and won the 2010 Children’s Theatre Foundation of America Medallion Award.

Contact Downtown and North Las Vegas View reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

For more information about the Rainbow Company Youth Theatre, visit rainbowcompany.org. For more information about the performance or to purchase tickets, visit artslasvegas.org or call 229-6553 or 229-6383.

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