A good musical score can actually be the key selling point for any production. A best supporting actor, if you will, that compliments solid performances.
Perseverance Theatre's production of "Eurydice" uses the talented musical stylings of composer and sound designer Ed Littlefield and musician Jocelyn Clark to immerse the audience into a character before, during, and after their appointed date on stage.
"This is a totally updated version," Littlefield said. "Our director (Roblin Gray Davis) says he wants it to be in the 1950s, but then it's in the 1920s, but then he wants this screeching noise. It's very avant garde. It is definitely a new take on the Orpheus theme, I think."
Occupianiest Jocelyn Clark added, "Ed's composed, and we've brought to it a few little tunes that we are playing for some of the characters' roles, under the direction of Roblin."
A few little tunes is an understatement, as their score continues throughout the play. The duo's stylings have Orpheus and Eurydice enthused with a lyrical, light, rolling sound; more fatherly, deeper moodings for the patriarch figure; and a hissing screeching noise for evil thoughts; plus a variety of vibrations, toots, jangles and creaks that slip into your ears like prose.
Clark grew up in Juneau (JDHS class of 1987); at 17 she spent a year in Japan; then studied musicology at Weslyan University; spent time in China studying various instruments and has a doctorate from Harvard in East Asian language and civilization. Currently she lives half the year in Korea studying Korean singing and as a professor at Pai Chai University, and the other half of the year in Juneau as director of the CrossSound Music Festival.
She is a master on the Chinese zither called a Zheng, a Korean instrument called a Kayagum, a Korean bow zither, plus various percussion instruments including an ocean drum. Clark also sings a type of song in Korean story-telling style. The love song (titled "Sarang ga") is introduced during the scene when Eurydice's father is building the string room for his daughter in the Underworld.
"It adds another layer," Clark said. "Of course, most won't understand it because I sing in Korean, but it is appropriate to the action and the text."
"Roblin wanted her featured on at least one song," Littlefield said. "She sent me a tape of 10 and when I heard this first one I just felt it."
Davis and Clark met at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp at the age of 12. Clark and Littlefield met there also, about 10 years later. Littlefield is a Sitka graduate (class of '98); attended University of Idaho for a music education degree; played on cruise ships; taught at Sitka High School; got a performance degree; toured with various groups including the Dallas Brass; and now has a private studio in Seattle and teaches in three different schools.
In "Eurydice," Littlefield plays the vibraphone (donated by JDHS), a trumpet which goes into a microphone and then delay and loop devices for extra effect if needed, a train whistle, drums, thunder cones, sticks, mallets, brushes, a water gong (donated by Clark's parents), and glasses filled with water which come to life under his fingers stimulation.
An interesting piece accompanies the Lord of the Underworld when he appears. It is a joyous calamity of sound one would associate with that first drum set in the garage band after school... butprofessionalized.
"I thought how do I make a rock band with just two people?" Littlefield commented. "It is definitely rocking..."
Patrons should be aware of the different musical stylings that accompany characters on stage and listen to the echoes, pings, strums, and achings of their own hearts as "Eurydice" and its score flow from this world to the next and back again.
"It's a play about music," Clark commented. "It's kind of like a character in the play."
"We don't want to overpower the play," Littlefield added. "It's more of a supporting actor role."
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