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Meet ‘The Gods Of Comedy’

Old Globe actors revel in Ken Ludwig’s new play

Photo credit: Jim Cox

Brad Oscar as Dionysus, Jessie Cannizzaro as Thalia, and Shay Vawn as Daphne in Ken Ludwig's "The Gods of Comedy," running through June 16 at The Old Globe.

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Two-time Olivier Award-winning comic playwright Ken Ludwig delighted Old Globe audiences with "Robin Hood!" and "Baskerville." Now he premieres "The Gods of Comedy." Actors Brad Oscar and Jessie Cannizzaro reveal the challenges and rewards of playing Greek gods.

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Aired: May 29, 2019 | Transcript

Two-time Olivier Award-winning comic playwright Ken Ludwig delighted Old Globe audiences with "Robin Hood!" and "Baskerville." Now he premieres "The Gods of Comedy." Actors Brad Oscar and Jessie Cannizzaro reveal the challenges and rewards of playing Greek gods.

Daphne and Ralph are classics professors who have just made a discovery that’s sure to bring them fame. When things take a disastrous turn, Daphne cries out, “Save me, gods of ancient Greece" and ta-da! The gods actually appear! But Dionysus (Brad Oscar) and Thalia (Jessie Cannizzaro) prove to be screwball deities who get involved in the antics of college coeds and campus capers.

"I think what's so much fun about playing gods is that the Greek gods, in particular, are always portrayed as these are very human beings," Cannizzaro said. "They are huge and magic and they live up on Mount Olympus and are larger than life in so many ways. But in so many other ways they're just like us. They're flawed, they're deeply, deeply human, they get emotionally attached to people and other gods and so it's been fun to kind of play with having the allowance to be larger than you are but also be very human with your portrayal."

Oscar agreed.

"They are very human in many ways, which is great because I think that's where the emotional part of the play lies that we are just as human and just as vested in what is happening in the story and trying to get this right and not screw up and make Zeus proud of us," Oscar said.

Ludwig delivers plays that are verbally adroit but also filled with physical comedy and a gleeful inventiveness.

"(What's) so much fun about 'Gods' is there are these big magical elements," Cannizzaro added. "Snow falls from the ceiling and through the windows, confetti flies, and doors fall off their hinges, and then what Ken does so brilliantly is he shows us what can be so magical about live performance and theater, which even on parts of the play when we say we snap our fingers and we say that we're invisible and all of the actors on stage sort of go along with it and the audience goes along for the ride too."

Oscar applauded Ludwig's flair for writing classical farce.

"There's nothing better than stage farce, good stage farce because again it's an experience we all share together," Oscar said. "So the audience is fully aware that the actors up there are indeed really running around and really doing what we're seeing. It's not a TV show or film where it's been cut to look any way we want it to look. We are up there actually, physically going through the motions. So having the opportunity to work with (Ludwig) now has been so special because that play is a touchstone to me of great stage comedy farces that I remember seeing in my formative years."

"The Gods of Comedy" runs through June 16 at the Old Globe's Shiley Stage.

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