Faux-Bia! The Musical Makes Its New York Debut at Carnegie Hall

Angelika Sandora as Medea with members of the Chorus of Faux-Bia! The Musical at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. Photo: Mateo Salcedo

NEW YORK – Faux-Bia! The Musical was performed at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in Manhattan on December 2, marking the New York premiere of the show which was previously performed in Greece under the direction of the prestigious director and actor Konstantinos Konstantopoulos.

The New York premiere of Faux-Bia, a pun pronounced “phobia,” was under the auspices of the General Consulate of Greece in New York, the Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands, AHEPA Delphi Chapter #25 Manhattan, the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, and Kefalos Society of America. Alma Bank and the Greek National Tourism Organization were sponsors of the show.

Angelika Sandora, CEO of Popular Theater Inc. and Theater Director in the Club for UNESCO of Piraeus & Islands (Greece and New York Chapters), wrote the book, music and lyrics, played Medea, and directed the show along with producer Sophia Dama who played Phaedra. Both actresses displayed a strong stage presence in their respective roles. Sandora spoke with The National Herald about the project explaining that the action picks up right after Aristophanes’ famous heroine, Lysistrata, devises a brilliant plan to blackmail the men of Greece by withholding what men want most in the world from women.

“Our play begins with the most famous women of ancient Greek myths and dramas, Medea, Hera, Phaedra, and Antigone,” Sandora told TNH.

“One at a time, they arrive at Olympus, pounding on the gates, egos clashing, and each with an agenda to fix her own self-centered problems. Eventually, they realize the problem is bigger than themselves and end up hatching a plan to save humanity, and make the men stop ruling the world with violent, warmongering tactics. All this in order to save the world from… fear, which is the root of all evil,” she said.

To highlight her point, Sandora quotes Gandhi, “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate: but, it is fear.”

Also featured in starring roles in the play are Silvana Gonzalez, choreographer Paloma de Vega, Kostis Savvidakis, Theodoros Petropoulos, and Tasos Karydis.

The opening dance sequence gave a rousing start to the show and indeed, the dance sequences, especially the Greek dances and the flamenco, were a highlight of the evening. A nod to ancient drama in the exchange between Medea and Antigone when they first meet was particularly clever. Songs with an international flavor and in a variety of genres created interest throughout the show, though problems with the sound made it difficult to hear the lyrics precisely.

Petropoulos as Jason, Karydis as Ganymedes, and de Vega as Antigone left a strong impression in their roles. Karydis’ shriek, in particular, at various moments in the show expressed so much without even a word uttered. In the end, however, the play could not quite escape a pageant-feel, populated by so many characters and touching on so many themes. A pared down production might have suited the story better.

A Greek actress, playwright, and philosophy teacher with a Master’s in Socratic Philosophy from the University of Leeds in the UK, Sandora studied theater at Traga Drama School in Athens, Greece, and speech with renowned master speech teacher, Susan Finch in New York. For the past seven years, she has been teaching the philosophy seminars, The Power of Socrates’ Philosophy in Personal Happiness and Global Leadership, (UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands, Greece and New York Chapter), combining philosophy and drama, while playing principal roles in ancient Greek tragedies and comedies, under the direction of the legendary Greek actor and director Kostas Kastanas, devoted pupil of the late Oscar-winning actress Katina Paxinou.

More information is available online: populartheater.com.

The poster for Faux-Bia! The Musical. Photo: Jeff Nash