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Once Upon a Time in Ancient Greece 

When: Fri., Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m. 2014
When playwright Laramie Dean was a kid, he remembers being enthralled with the 1981 epic Clash of the Titans. He writes in his playwright notes for the upcoming Once Upon a Time in Ancient Greece: “Created by genius designer Ray Harryhausen, the Medusa effect in Clash of the Titans, with her lashing snake body and head of hissing snakes, alternately thrilled and terrified me.”

Dean also writes that back when the Montana Repertory Theatre presented him with the idea of adapting Greek myth into a play, he jumped at the chance. The production presents a lighthearted riff on the myths about the fearsome Gorgon sisters, inspired by the recent success of stories that show sympathetic sides of traditional villains like Maleficent and Wicked. Dean, who holds a doctorate in speech/communications and teaches drama at Hellgate High, is no stranger to unorthodox takes on classic themes; he’s also written queer fairytales, one of which ended up in the 2009 anthology, Queer Wolf.

In Ancient Greece, Dean envisions Stheno, one of the Gorgon sisters, as a plucky gal who’s understandably upset when her sister Medusa is murdered. Everything plays out with just a few actors using puppets, shadow play and illusion to create a fully realized tale of Stheno’s quest into the underworld. (Friday and Saturday are Missoula’s best chance to catch the production, since afterward the cast and crew will depart to tour the state, bringing the play to schools and libraries.) There’s no Harry Hamlin or cheesy stop-motion in this Greek myth: it’s driven by the love of storytelling. —Kate Whittle

It's all Greek to me at the Montana Rep Theatre's Once Upon a Time in Ancient Greece, about an ornery Gorgon sister and her antics. Masquer Theatre. Sept. 5-6, at 7:30 PM. $11/$6 for kids.

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