The Orpheus Project ups ante of original musical experiences

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Orpheus Project - Preview Evening-5

Sometimes when you take risks, it all pays off. The Orpheus Project was one of those special moments.

Music on Main just upped the ante for innovative experiences in Vancouver. The Orpheus Project brings together original compositions, a talented cast, and backstage access to one of the most historic and cherished spaces in town. Oh, and did I mention it was all accomplished in a scant 1.5 years?

It all required a certain type of insane bravery, found in Music on Main’s visionary, David Pay.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the intersection of music and more visual art forms, and the Orpheus stories have a particular resonance even today,” said David Pay, Music on Main Artistic Director. “After experiencing some amazing site-specific and immersive works on my travels, I was inspired to create a music-based immersive event through Music on Main.”

Orpheus Project - Preview Evening-8

Thanks to the creative minds of some of local music’s finest musicians, Pay was able to produce a series of linked works depicting a certain section of the life of Orpheus. From music to storytelling to a lovely bit of audience participation with locks and keys, audiences divided up into four groups and were led throughout the theatre – a mastery of space and timing that leads full credit to the organizational prowess of the organizers.

Inspired by Vancouver’s HIVE collective and London’s dreamthinkspeak and Punchdrunk, The Orpheus Project re-imagines the performance spaces within The Cultch, both traditional and not, as a site-specific venue for musical discovery with a theatrical flair. Audiences roam throughout the theatre, uncovering secret rooms, mysterious music, interactive vignettes and moments of surprising beauty. This immersive, choose-your-own-adventure experience will surprise and delight musical aficionados and lovers of visual and theatre artistry alike.

Some slight nitpicks to an otherwise flawless night. Veda Hille was amazing on all of her piano-esque parts, but notably less so on vocals. Especially when compared to the power duo of Steve Maddock and Carla Huhtanen, Hille’s voice lacked power and precision. The other thing that stood out in my mind was a wish that there was a better overall narrative going on – an indication of what we were watching in a few of the acts. Since The Orpheus Project relies so heavily on the story of the legendary poet, some cues and hints would have been appreciated on certain creations, for the uninitiated.

The Orpheus Project was a limited run, but my hopes are that they will bring it back soon. Music on Main’s innovation into live musical experiences is a wonderful departure from this ‘no fun city,’ and I highly encourage you to check out their next event.

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Cecilia Lu Arts & Culture Editor at Vancity Buzz. Cecilia a sucker for great indie theatre and anything really geeky. Lethal drink of choice: single malt whisky. cecilia[at]vancitybuzz[dot]com
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