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Choices lead to memorable journey in Eurydice

7:30 p.m. Tuesday through April 18 and April 20-24, 2:30 p.m. April 17 and April 24; a general admission preview will be 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Ed Cabell Theatre, Gainesville State College’s continuing education building, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood
How much: $10-$18; $8 for preview performance

OAKWOOD — Some choices are a lot easier than others.

Cereal or toast, for example — not so hard to choose one over the other.

But imagine finally being able to talk to your father, years after his death — and then having to choose whether to stay with him and enjoy his company or reunite with your new husband, who you lost shortly after being married.

Such is the predicament that unravels for the young Eurydice in a modern tale based on the Greek myth of the same name. The production from Gainesville Theatre Alliance opens Tuesday at the Ed Cabell Theatre at Gainesville State College in Oakwood.

In the play, the heroine falls to her death, not long after marrying Orpheus, and takes an elevator down to the underworld. She meets her father there, but there’s a catch — she’s been dipped in the pool of forgetfulness, and she’s forgotten much of what she knew from the world of the living. That means she doesn’t recognize her father, the name of her husband and even how to say some words.

And the nearby "stones" of the underworld are constantly calling for Eurydice to just give in; forgetfulness makes death so much easier.

But don’t let this seemingly tragic plot line fool you. "Eurydice" is actually an uplifting tale disguised as something sad, marked by the choices she makes.

The production’s lighting designer Todd Wren said the use of ropes and levels in the set allows him to follow the fluid movement of water. Water can change its path, he said, but it’s always moving down.

And the play follows that water from a beach to a fountain and, finally, to its resting point in the underworld.

"I think it’s a beautiful tale; it’s a wonderful tale," said Wren, during the stage tour for "Eurydice" last week. "One thing I came away from it (with) is the choices we made, and the choices that are made for us."

And don’t think that because the characters spend most of their time in the underworld that the play is dark and scary.

Rather than being nasty and awful, he said, the underworld is "just forgotten." And adding to the set are letters from GTA patrons, who wrote notes to lost loved ones.

"Eurydice" marks director Richard Garner’s fourth collaboration with Gainesville Theatre Alliance. The co-founder and producing artistic director of Georgia Shakespeare in Atlanta has also directed "Bus Stop," "Comic Potential" and "Equus."

And the show brings another face to the stage who is usually working behind the scenes: GTA artistic director Jim Hammond, who is portraying Eurydice’s father. Hammond joins Brenau University senior Jas Sams as Eurydice; Sams also has held roles in "The Beaux’ Stratagem," "Proof" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Brenau junior and Gainesville native David Franklin plays Orpheus; he’s been seen in GTA’s productions "The Wedding Singer," "The Beaux’ Stratagem" and "Romeo & Juliet."

Garner agreed that the story isn’t necessarily sad — but it’s certainly touching.

"It’s what she discovers when she reconnects with her father," he said. "It’s a love story for her father."

But at the end, it all hinges on Eurydice’s choice. "What if she had made the other choice?" asked Garner, noting a common question audiences have in the final minutes of the play.

It’s all part of a well-crafted story and how "Eurydice" manages to balance being lighthearted and deep at the same time.

"I never want to lose sight of the humor," Wren said. "Her words are so precise, so perfectly crafted, that there’s a lot of fun to be had."

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