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Off Broadway gets electrified by Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera

By on September 13, 2016
Greg Swirszcz, George Tsalikis, Billy Chrissochos. Photo Christos Kavvadas

Greg Swirszcz, George Tsalikis, Billy Chrissochos. Photo Christos Kavvadas

A sonic rumble was felt in NYC’s famed West Village’s Players Theatre! Labeled as “Byzantine Rock” by the press, “Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera. Anna and Vladimir: The love that ROCKED the world,” blew all expectations on their three day Off Broadway run. As a little known production one year ago, Anna and Vladimir, became the first Greek themed Rock Opera to debut at the prestigious Carnegie Hall. Now re-inspired and revamped with fresh new talent the show that blended Hard Rock and Metal with Greek and exotic sounds send the audience on that distant trip again back to the year 988AD, to medieval Greece.

Marlain Angelides. Photo Demetrios Tsinopoulos

Marlain Angelides. Photo Demetrios Tsinopoulos

In this Heroic Age of Basil II Emperor of Byzantium, our story chronicles Princess Anna Porphyrogenita and her marriage to Grand Prince Vladimir of the Kievan Rus. An incredible story of Love, War and Peace this special “concert” version of the Porphyra musical was raw, energetic and filled with a bevy of beautiful dancers. It features Director and lead vocalist George Tsalikis as Vladimir and Marlain Angelides as Anna. This time around we get introduced to two characters that were missing from the Carnegie debut; that of Dom Giovanni as Emperor Basil II who is Anna’s brother, and Elaine Tuttle as Princess Olga, who is Vladimir’s mentor and grandmother. Four amazing rock voices tied together by the beautiful and charismatic narrator Mantalena Papadatou.

Choreographer Dena Stevens outdid herself once again by bringing an exotic dance element to the show. Her Shazadi Dance Project graced us with herself and four other beautiful dancers, Mia Stevens, Peishan Lo, Alicia Kubeck and Carola Gremlich.

Photo by Demetrios Tsinopoulos

Photo by Demetrios Tsinopoulos

With original music written by producer/guitarist Billy Chrissochos and lyrics by Billy Chrissochos and George Tsalikis, and book by George Tsalikis, the group is rounded out by Mike “Risko” Savvas on guitar and his exotic Tzoura and Grzegorz “Greg” Swirszcz on bass (and all around sound technician). The percussion section was a force to be reckoned with Richard S. Khuzami playing all sorts of percussive instruments ranging from the Doumbek to the Daouli and James Shepherd holding the entire ship steady on his mighty drum kit. The rest of the production consisted of Elias Markos on Lights, Despina Chrissochos, Chris Pollatos and Demetrios Tsinopoulos.

The cast, crew and audience were treated to a special award ceremony on Friday’s premiere. Mr. Ioannis Maronitis, President of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands awarded the entire cast of Porphyra for promoting Greek culture, history and music and bridging it with modern Rock and Heavy Metal. Mr. Maronitis gave a moving speech, “my small country which is going through troubled times now, has a very strong weapon; its culture, history and arts. Byzantine History is a most attractive history and the way Porphyra has worked to create this very important show, has breathed new life to the pivotal story of Anna and Vladimir.”

Mike Savvas, Greg Swirszcz, Billy Chrissochos. Photo Demetrios Tsinopoulos

Mike Savvas, Greg Swirszcz, Billy Chrissochos. Photo Demetrios Tsinopoulos

Mr. Maronitis also appointed Mr. Billy Chrissochos as a Director of Modern Music for UNESCO Piraeus & Islands after the recommendation of international classical composer Panagiotis Karousos. Mr. Karousos also heads the European branch of The Hellenic American Center of the Arts while Mr. Chrissochos heads the American branch.

Rock opera is a work of rock music that presents a storyline told over multiple parts, songs or sections; however, it is not an opera. A rock opera tells a coherent story, and may involve songs performed as if sung by separate characters in a drama, as in classical opera. In recorded form it is a type of concept album.

UNESCO Club Piraeus and Islands President I. Maronitis awarding cast of Porphyra. Photo Eta Img.

UNESCO Club Piraeus and Islands President I. Maronitis awarding cast of Porphyra. Photo Eta Img.

In Russian music, the first Soviet-Russian rock-opera was Orpheus and Eurydice, proving that a love for all things Greek was always prevalent in the Russian arts. Other popular Rock Opera’s are Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” The Who’s “Tommy” and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” In recent years there is The Trans-Siberian-Orchestra’s Christmas/Metal/Classical music extravaganza shows. The beauty with Porphyra is that it is a Rock Opera and we also have the potential to become a full blown Musical like “Rent,” “Rock of Ages” and “Phantom of the Opera!” Our critically acclaimed singles “Shine,” “Alone in the Darkness” and “Hook Through My Heart” are future Broadway showstoppers.

Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera will hit the Off Broadway theaters again. For more information their website is Porphyrarockopera.com.

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