The Onassis Foundation and TRAX from PRX Present ‘Live from Mount Olympus’
A New Podcast Co-Produced with the TEAM and Co-Directed by Tony Winner Rachel Chavkin and Zhailon Levingston and Hosted by Broadway Icon André De Shields as Hermes
The Onassis Foundation and the TRAX podcast network for tweens from public media organization PRX today announced “Live from Mount Olympus,” a new podcast produced in partnership with theatre ensemble the TEAM, combining the magic of audio and contemporary theatre with the power of Greek myth.
The show will debut free on-demand to audiences everywhere on Tuesday, February 2, with new episodes each Tuesday through March 9. An audio trailer is available now.
“Live from Mount Olympus,” an audio adventure for all, is co-directed by Rachel Chavkin, recipient of the Tony Award for best direction of a musical in 2019 for “Hadestown” and honored in 2017 for “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812" and Zhailon Levingston, who currently serves as the Resident Director for Broadway’s “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.”
“These recording sessions have been profoundly joyous for the company, in extremely heavy times,” said Rachel Chavkin, Co-Director. “Silliness, as well as depth, abounds. And I think that this joy in making will translate to listeners of all ages, as these old tales are rendered new and fresh.”
“It has been such a gift to, within these covid times of isolation, still be able to visit worlds new and old through the prevailing gift of the imagination and the willingness of everyone to bring their most optimistic and joyful selves to the project,” said Zhailon Levingston, Co-Director. “I hope it touches every young listener who hears it.”
When young Perseus, voiced by actor Divine Garland, makes a rash promise to save his mother from the clutches of an evil king, he has to strike out on a dangerous quest. Hermes, god of luck and thieves, voiced by Tony Award-winning actor André De Shields (The TEAM, “Hadestown,” “The Wiz”), narrates this tale of terrifying monsters, powerful gods, and a brave girl who will change Perseus’ life forever. Richly imagined through evocative action and immersive sound, the podcast also explores timeless themes of complex families, love, and discovering not only who you are, but what you are capable of.
“Live from Mount Olympus” features artists from acclaimed Brooklyn-based theater company the TEAM including Vinie Burrows (Gaia, Maia, Gray Sister, Nymph), André De Shields (Hermes), Jill Frutkin (Metis, Gray Sister, Nymph), Divine Garland (Perseus), Amber Gray (Cassiopeia), Modesto “Flako” Jimenez (Phylakos), Libby King (Athena), Ian Lassiter (Zeus, Apollo, Acrisius, Polydectes, Kronos, sea monster Cetus), Zhailon Levingston (Young Hermes, Funeral Games Announcer, Series Announcer), Christina Liberus (Andromeda), Nehemiah Luckett (Cepheus), Jake Margolin (Dictys), James Harrison Monaco (Hephaestus, Atlas, Phineus), Kristen Sieh (Perseus at ages five and 12, Rhea, Gray Sister, Nymph), and Jillian Walker (Danae).
The “Live from Mount Olympus” production team includes executive producer Karen Brooks Hopkins, Senior Advisor of Onassis USA, who served as President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) from 1999 to 2015. The series is created and produced by Peabody Award-winning radio producer Julie Burstein, creator of public radio’s “Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen.” In addition, the podcast features writing by Alexie Basil (episodes one through four) as well as by “Sesame Street” writer and playwright Nathan Yungerberg (episodes five and six), sound design by David Schulman of NPR’s “Musicians in Their Own Words” series, story editing by author Nalini Jones, music composed and performed by Magda Giannikou, leader of the Banda Magda world music ensemble, and illustrations by cartoonist Jason Adam Katzenstein, whose work has been featured in The New Yorker and on Cartoon Network.
“The Onassis Foundation has a deep and organic connection to the Greek myths and their timeless stories about existence, divinity, struggle, and righteousness. I can’t think of any better medium to communicate these enduring tales than audio drama via a contemporary podcast,” said Karen Brooks Hopkins, Executive Producer and Onassis USA Senior Advisor. “We are thrilled that our program is part of PRX’s new TRAX network and we are proud of the stellar cast, creators, and advisors who have brought ‘Live from Mount Olympus’ to the airwaves.”
“It’s been a great pleasure to work with artists from all over the country and the globe despite the global pandemic,” said Julie Burstein, Co-Creator and Producer of “Live from Mount Olympus.” “Audio has allowed us to create a world we can inhabit together even when we all have to stay home. Our marvelous, diverse cast and immersive sound design bring the story of Perseus to life in a podcast that will thrill listeners of all ages.”
“‘Live from Mount Olympus’ is an epic tale of mortals and gods, but at its core, the story is full of universal truths we all face in our lives, especially in the midst of growing up,” said Michelle Smawley, Executive Producer of TRAX from PRX. “At TRAX, we believe podcasts have the power to provide adventurous entertainment to tween audiences, while also speaking to their lived experiences in order to better understand the world. We’re delighted to partner with the Onassis Foundation and this accomplished and very inclusive team of creators to bring tweens a show the likes of which they’ve never heard before.”
“Live from Mount Olympus” is available free on-demand across podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher, and online at TRAX.fm.
Visit onassis.link/olympus for more.
The Onassis Foundation’s mission is and will always be human-centric. Since 1975, focusing on the fields of culture, health, and education, it creates the conditions, explores the ideas, and triggers the discussions that lead to a better society. Releasing the potential οf artists, scholars, and scientists, it has supported Greek programs in universities around the world; has granted more than 7,000 scholarships and research fellowships for postgraduate and doctorate studies; has continuously supported Special Education; has acquired the Cavafy Archive to ensure its openness and accessibility to researchers and the wider public; has rare book collections in the Onassis Library; has built and donated to the Greek State the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre (OCSC) and is currently building the much-needed Onassis National Transplant Center in Athens; has established Onassis USA (NY & LA), including the ONX Studio in partnership with the New Museum in Midtown Manhattan for extended reality artists, and last but not least, Onassis Stegi in Athens, a cultural center which hosts performances and activities across the whole spectrum of the arts from theatre, dance, music, cinema and the visual arts to the written word, with an emphasis on contemporary cultural expression. The Onassis Foundation believes in active citizens with bold ideas and optimistic dreams, and embraces process, research, study, experimentation, as well as the values of freedom, democracy and human rights.
TRAX from PRX is a collection of free podcasts offering 9–13 year-olds authentic, imaginative, and original stories. The shows are representative of lived experiences, both real and aspirational, and touch upon the issues important to tweens at this moment in their lives.
PRX is a public media organization shaping the future of audio by producing and distributing content, building technology, and training talented, independent producers. With an award-winning portfolio ranging from iconic public radio programs such as The Moth Radio Hour, TED Talks Daily, This American Life, The Takeaway, Snap Judgment, Latino USA, and Reveal, as well as a growing body of podcast-first productions, including the Radiotopia podcast network, PRX generates more than 100 million podcast downloads per month. More at PRX.org.
The TEAM is a Brooklyn-based ensemble dedicated to creating new work about the experience of living in America today. The company has created and toured 12 original works. The work has been seen in New York at the Public Theater, PS122, Vineyard Theatre, the New Ohio Theatre, and The Bushwick Starr; nationally at ArtsEmerson, A.R.T., Walker Art Center, Playmakers Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Virginia Tech, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and internationally at the National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Barbican, Almeida Theatre, and Battersea Arts Centre in London; Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre; Culturgest in Lisbon; the Salzburg Festival; Galway Festival; Perth International Arts Festival; and Hong Kong Arts Festival.
They’re four-time winners of the Scotsman Fringe First Award, Winner 2011 Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Prize, 2011 Herald Angel, 2008 Edinburgh Total Theatre Award, Best Production Dublin Fringe 2007, were nominated for a 2012 Drama League Award for Outstanding Musical and are a recipient of the American Theatre Wing’s 2014 National Theatre Company Grant. They’ve published three books of their plays, including a 10-year anthology Five Plays by the TEAM. They are currently working on Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside), a new theatrical work that explores if intimacy can and/or should exist between white-identifying and Black-identifying individuals in an anti-Black America. The TEAM also supports a lab program for their artistic family called the Petri Projects, which supports seedlings of new works through development and funding resources.