August 01, 2012

Getty Announces Cast for Outdoor Theater Production of Euripides' Helen

Rachel Sorsa and Maxwell Caulfield Lead the Cast

At the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Villa
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, September 6–29, 2012


MEDIA CONTACT:                 
Desiree Zenowich
Getty Communications
(310) 440-7304  

The cast of Euripides’ Helen at the Getty Villa.
Top left to right: Chil Kong (Theoclymenus), Carlease Burke (Hattie), Melody Butiu (Lady),
Natsuko Ohama (Theonoe), Robert Almodovar (Old Soldier), Arséne DeLay (Cleo).
Bottom left to right: Jayme Lake (Cherry), Rachel Sorsa (Helen), Maxwell Caulfield (Menelaos),
Christopher Rivas (Teucer)

Photo: Craig Schwartz. © J. Paul Getty Trust

LOS ANGELES—The Getty Museum and Playwrights’ Arena announced today the cast for Euripides’ Helen, the seventh annual outdoor theatrical production in the Getty Villa’s Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. Presenting a surprising twist on the legend of Helen of Troy, Euripides’ rarely performed Helen will feature Rachel Sorsa in the title role and Maxwell Caulfield as Menelaos. Directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, artistic director of Los Angeles-based Playwrights’ Arena, this production debuts a new adaptation by playwright Nick Salamone and a score by composer and musical director David O.

“We are thrilled to have a great cast of talented actors in place and to begin working together on this production of Helen,” says director Jon Lawrence Rivera. “We are especially blessed to have two featured actors—Rachel Sorsa and Maxwell Caulfield, our Helen and Menelaos—who are as witty and complex as the characters Euripides presents in this remarkable play.  I expect that Nick Salamone’s wonderful adaptation will prove a revelation to theater-goers who thought they “knew” Euripides—he never ceases to surprise us!”

Rachel Sorsa is an award-winning actress and singer. Her stage credits include Del Shores’ multi-award winning Yellow (LA Weekly Theatre and Drama Critics Circle Awards), Angel Street, Twentieth Century, and James Still’s Searching for Eden: the diaries of adam and eve. She can be seen in Del Shores’ upcoming film Blues for Willadean with Octavia Spencer, Beth Grant, and Dale Dickey. Ms. Sorsa received her BA in Theatre and Drama from The University of Michigan School of Music, MA in Theatre from Michigan State University and Ph.D (ABD) in Theatre History and Criticism from the University of Texas in Austin.

Maxwell Caulfield has appeared on Broadway in Chicago and An Inspector Calls. His Off-Broadway credits include Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Class Enemy, My Deah, and Tryst. Caulfield also appeared in Loot at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. His film and television credits include Grease 2, The Boys Next Door, Empire Records, Gettysburg, The Colbys, and Dynasty.

In this version of Helen’s story, written just three years after his Trojan Women, Euripides’ heroine is no wanton seductress, but rather a faithful wife and innocent victim of Olympian plots. By a trick of the gods, this Helen never travels to Troy at all, but is replaced by a phantom double before she can be kidnapped by the Trojan prince Paris. Magically transported by Hermes to the far off island of Pharos for safekeeping, the real Queen Helen waits out the Trojan War in an ironic celibacy, far from the battle.

Euripides’ play picks up Helen’s story seventeen years later, as the now middle-aged queen, ignorant of the war’s terrible toll, awaits rescue from the island by her husband Menelaos as the gods have promised her. When rumor reaches her that Menelaos is dead, Helen is forced to take matters into her own hands and the plot quickens with mistaken identities, daredevil escapes, and the inevitable deus ex machina.


Euripides’ Helen at the Getty Villa. Left to right: Maxwell Caulfield (Menelaos) and Rachel Sorsa (Helen)
Photo: Craig Schwartz. © J. Paul Getty Trust



The Getty Villa’s annual outdoor theater production is part of a year-round innovative theater program that enhances the museum visitor’s experience of the ancient world. Live performances of classical drama offer insight into the social, cultural, and political realities of life in ancient Greece and Rome. In the galleries, the works of art serve to deepen the connection between modern audiences and the mythical stories underlying the tragedies and comedies on stage.

Performances of Euripides’ Helen will be held Thursday through Saturday, September 6 through 29, 2012 at 8:00 p.m., with previews from August 30 through September 1. Tickets are $42 ($38 for students and seniors, $25 for preview performances). Tickets and further information are available by calling (310) 440-7300 or online.


The Cast of Euripides’ Helen

Helen, queen of Sparta                                                                               
Rachel Sorsa 

Menelaos, king of Sparta                                                                             
Maxwell Caulfield   

Theoclymenus, ruler of Pharos                                                                    
Chil Kong        

Theonoe, devotee of Artemis, sister of Theoclymenus                                
Natsuko Ohama

Hattie, slave to Theoclymenus and Theonoe                                               
Carlease Burke 

Lady, chorus                                                                                               
Melody Butiu     

Cleo, chorus                                                                                                 
Arséne DeLay     
Cherry, chorus                                                                                             
Jayme Lake 

Old Soldier, follower of Menelaos                                                                
Robert Almodovar

Teucer, wounded veteran, younger brother of the war hero Ajax              
Christopher Rivas       

About director Jon Lawrence Rivera
Jon Lawrence Rivera is the founding artistic director of Playwrights’ Arena. A five-time Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award nominee, he and his productions have garnered over 100 local and international awards. Most recently, he has directed The Girl Most Likely To by Michael Premsrirat; Cages by Leonard Manzella; Unmerciful Good Fortune by Edwin Sanchez; Bonded by Donald Jolly (2012 GLAAD Award nomination); Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca; Calligraphy by Velina Hasu Houston; Road to Saigon at East West Players; Jacques Brel at the Colony Theatre; and Oedipus el Rey by Luis Alfaro at the Getty Villa Theater Lab and at the Boston Court Theatre. Past collaborations with playwright Nick Salamone have included The Sonneteer (Los Angeles Times best play of 2011); Sea Change (2009 LA Weekly Award for best director); and Hillary Agonistes (2007 New York International Fringe Festival Award for best director).

About playwright Nick Salamone
Nick Salamone is the author of ten full-length produced plays: Another House on Mercy Street, All Souls’ Day, Riffs and Credos, Moscow, Red Hat and Tales, Whale Watchers, Hillary Agonistes, Gulls, Sea Change, and The Sonneteer. Salamone received the 2007 Playwrights’ Arena Award for outstanding contribution to the Los Angeles theater community, two Beverly Press Maddy Awards for excellence in playwriting, an LA Weekly Award for adaptation, and three Garland Awards for Excellence in Southland Theater (one for adaption and two for musical score). He was nominated for two LA Weekly Awards for playwriting and an Ovation Award for book and lyrics. His most recent work, The Sonneteer, was listed by the Los Angeles Times, LA Stage Times, and Entertainment Today as among the best new plays of 2011. For the production Moscow, Salamone received the Fringe First Award for new writing as well as the audience favorite award at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. He is an alumnus of the Nautilus Music Theater workshop and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Tufts University with a bachelor of arts in English and drama.

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations:  the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas, including Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts, and photographs gathered internationally. The Museum’s mission is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the works of art through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.

Visiting the Getty Villa
The Getty Villa is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Tuesday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free. A ticket is required for admission. Tickets can be ordered in advance, or on the day of your visit, at or at (310) 440-7300. Parking is $15 per car. Groups of 15 or more must make reservations by phone. For more information, call (310) 440-7300 (English or Spanish); (310) 440-7305 (TTY line for the deaf or hearing impaired). The Getty Villa is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California.

Additional information is available at
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