Mudd Butts Present “The Odyssey of Homer”

Mudd Butts Present “The Odyssey of Homer”

“The Odyssey by Homer,” presented by Telluride Academy’s Mudd Butts Mystery Theatre Troupe, Thursday – Saturday, August 6 – 8, 6 p.m. Purchase tickets at the door, $12/adults; $5/children under 12. For more information, contact Telluride Academy 970-728-5311.


Advertising and promotional claims are tough to verify. One pill makes you larger. One pill makes you small. You’ve got to swallow it whole to find out.

For years, the Telluride Academy’s Mudd Butts Mystery Drama Camp’s dream team, including Sally Davis, Kim Epifano and Mike Stasiuk in the lead, have been harmonizing with the chorus of educators making strong claims about the halo effect of theatre education and activities: enhanced creativity, problem-solving, focus and perseverance, non-verbal communication, ability to receive and metabolize constructive feedback, ability to work well with others, and an understanding that actions have consequences. Those life skills are all on the list.


Mudd Butts is an intensive drama workshop covering all aspects of theatre arts, including games, script- and song-writing, street theatre, improv, dance, prop-making, and marketing – sometimes even stilt walking. But the program’s off piste claims are what matter in the long run.

Mudd Butts provides a unique opportunity to work with special people from diverse backgrounds of different ages (10 – 50-something for the directors, staff, etc.), who share a common goal. It is a chance for the kids to meet their inner artist and make friends with him or her.


“Kids are taught a hard work ethic necessary to produce such high-quality theatre,” explained Stasiuk. “But that experience is mixed with humor and fun, sadly an unusual recipe in this world.” 

Are the lofty claims true? Does the Mudd Butts experience make an indelible and positive mark on the character of participants? The alumni I’ve interviewed over the years applaud in unison.


Still, seeing is believing.

Friday night was pure family fun at at the ninth annual Telluride Playwright Festival, an evening of magic (local Paul Distefano charming the crowd on the eve of his wedding) and improv, performed largely by professional actors, mostly from the esteemed Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.  However, audience participation was welcomed, even encouraged.

The group of kids sitting in chairs rimming the stage needed no encouragement.

mudd butts 2

Poised, self-confident, smart, funny, and completely uninhibited, at every opportunity these Mudd Butt campers jumped onto the stage and into the skits in characters they had invented on the spot. Their  spontaneity and exuberance were a joy to behold. The audience was enthralled.

Since 1993, I have seen (and spilled tons of ink over) almost every one of the Mudd Butts shows. And all have felt magical, for cast and audience alike. But Sally and Kim and their crew of helpers and supporters are devout taskmasters and the month-long rehearsal process is like boot camp – in the very best sense. Improv night was my first time seeing the kids untethered, unscripted, unrehearsed.


Watching, I was not alone in thinking they will all grow up to be boldfaced somebodies.

So has the odyssey of almost three decades that now points to the upcoming Mudd Butts production been worth all the blood, sweat and tears ?

You betcha.

And while we are on the subject of an interesting journey, this year’s Mudd Butts Mystery Theatre Troupe’s production, a program of the Telluride Academy, is based on “The Odyssey by Homer.” Shows will be performed at the Michael D. Palm Theater Thursday, August 6 – Saturday, August 8. The annual fundraising auction of amazing handmade props takes place after the final performance. The production is for all ages.



About The Odyssey: 

Homer’s “Odyssey” is one of two major ancient epic Greek poems. (The other is”The Illiad.”) In fact, “The Odyssey” is, in part, a sequel to Homer’s “The Illiad” and both poems are fundamental to the modern Western canon. Scholars believe “The Odyssey” was composed near the end of the 8th century B.C., somewhere in Ionia, in the Greek coastal region of Anatolia.

“The Odyssey” centers around the exploits of the Greek hero Odysseus, or Ulysses in Roman myths, and what transpires on his 10-year journey home to Ithaca after the Trojan War and the fall of Troy. Because he was away so long, Odysseus’s wife Penelope and his son Telemachus come to believe the hero and master of the house is dead. Penelope is forced to deal with a stream of unruly suits, who compete for her hand in marriage.


The following is a cool summary of “The Odyssey” on

Years after the end of  the Trojan War, the Greek hero Odysseus still hasn’t come home to Ithaka. Most people figure he’s dead. But we don’t: Homer lets us know right away that Odysseus is being held as a (willing) sex captive on the island of the goddess Kalypso. Oh, and sea god Poseidon is ticked off at Odysseus and sees no reason to let him get home.

Back in Ithaka, Odysseus’s wife Penelope is getting swarmed by a horde of unwanted suitors. Odysseus and Penelope’s son, Telemachos, now a typically moody teenager, gets a visit from the goddess Athene (who was always chummy with Odysseus). She tells him to go looking for news of his missing father, so he heads to Pylos to visit King Nestor. Nestor takes him in, gives him a dinner—and then tells him to go see King Menelaos in Sparta. Once again, he does as he’s told.

In Sparta, Telemachos learns from Menelaos that Odysseus is alive and…well, being held captive on Kalypso’s island. Menelaos also tells Telemachos about how his bro, King Agamemnon, was murdered when he got home from Troy by his unfaithful wife, Klytemnestra, and her lover, Aigisthos. It’s cool, though: Agamemnon’s son Orestes killed the murderers. This fun story raises the question of whether Odysseus will be killed when he gets home, and, if so, whether Telemachos will step up to avenge his father’s death. Meanwhile, back in Ithaka, Penelope’s suitors plot to ambush and kill Telemachos when he returns home. Oh, the tension!..

Continue reading here.  


We have had this story on our list of plays to tackle for a long time. It has a slew of great characters and settings. It is a story about trying to get home. It is a story not of one age but of all ages. The Odyssey is grand theater,” explained Sally and Kim, adding:

“As many people have told this tale in their own way and we are doing the same. We have changed the ending to fit our time and what we see as important. There are a lot of group scenes which gives our actors a chance to build their ensemble skills. There are also quite a few juicy and challenging roles. Our play is an adaptation of The San Francisco School’s play called ‘The Odyssey by Homer.’

Guest artists include Clay Frohman, Paul DiStefano, Ashley Boling, Bart Hopkin.

Of course, Michael Stasiuk is, as usual, cranking out miraculous props for the production: cyclops, skeletons, six-headed monsters, goddesses, animals, and more.

“We have a wonderful creative staff this year,” explained Sally and Kim. “Maisy Cooper, Kelsey Trottier and Carlen Strong all have lots of theater experience and are brilliant with young people. We are so lucky to have them on board.”

If you did the math, you know the story of Odysseus took place 2,600 years ago and is still going strong.

And so is Mudd Butts, now 29-years-old – and still new.


Full cast list of the Mudd Butts’ Odyssey: 

Claire Aguilar – Agamemnon // seagull #1 // Bat #2 (Cyclops scene)

Haley Brackett – Muse #6 (Polyhymnia) // Mikeli (sailor) // Eurydamas (suitor)

Julian Brooks– Telemachus // Stephamos (sailor) // Scylla (monster)

Cassidy Craige – Muse #3 (Erato) //  Polyxene (sailor)

Diego Duncombe– Zeus // Kostas (sailor)

Max Faust – Odysseus

Quincy Faust – Antinous (suitor) // Junia (Circe’s assistant) // Apollo // sheep // back-up for Aeolus

Charles Fawkes – Poseidon // back-up singer for Aeolus

Audrey Garner – Polyphemous (Cyclops w/ Elliot) // Maiden #2 on Calypso’s island

Shen Geldbaugh – Muse #2 (Clio) // Hermes

Amy Guerrero – Anphinomus (suitor) // Maiden #1 on Calypso island // sheep // back-up for Aeolus

Layla Harrison – Muse #1 (Calliope) // Eurymachus (suitor) // rock

Soren Hughes – Hades // Zorba (Faithful servant) // Scylla (monster)

Emma Grace Messenger – Athena // Muse #8 (Thalia)

Gracie Minarovic – Akakius (suitor) // calypso dancer

Cira Minzel – Anticlea // cyclops #2

Siena Minzel – Calypso // muse #9 (Urania) // back-up for Aeolus // Rita (serving maid)

Elliott Mulford– Polyphemus (Cyclops w/ Audrey) // Medon (Suitor)

Griffinn Mulford – Andromache (sailor)

Chloie Plumber– Eurylochus (sailor) // Iphegenia (Calypso’s maiden)

Zoe Rehnborg – Circe // Peisander (suitor)

Emma Salem – Basti (Serving maid) // Rosa (Circe’s assistant) //  Siren#2 // Seagull #2 // Bat #2 (Cyclops scene)

Lola Sembrat – Muse #4 (Euterpe) // Dimitros (Sailor)

Brooke Shifrin – Aeolus // muse #5 (Melpomene)

Emily Steele – Homer // Melalious (Circe’s island) // sheep

Sadie Steinberg – muse #7 (Terpsichore) //  Danae (Circe’s assistant) // puppeteer for Trojan Horse & ship

Koko Waller – Penelope

Annika Zinn – Teiresias // sheep // Siren #1

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.