Book by Joseph Stein
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
adapted from the novel Zorba The Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis

INFO:

Opened at the Imperial Theatre    November 17, 1968    305 performances (revived with Anthony Quinn in 1983, another 362 performances)
Original Director: Harold Prince
Original Choreographer: Ronald Field
Original Producer: Harold Prince
Original Leads: Zorba: Herschel Bernardi    Hortense: Maria Karnilova
Cast Size: Male: 28    Female: 12    Ensemble: 0    Total Cast Size: 40 (But many should be doubled. This can be done with perhaps 24 or so. With masks, it could be dropped to about 16.)
Orchestra: 19  (I think this could be done well with 2  keyboards, percussion, guitar, and a few specialty instruments, perhaps a total of 6-7 musicians.  The intimacy of a smaller orchestration would help pull the audience in.  And some of the musicians can be seated on stage, as a part of the Chorus.)
Published Script: Random House, Samuel French
Production Rights: Samuel French
Recordings: The original Broadway, the revival with Quinn is better.
Other shows by the authors: Flora The Red Menace, Cabaret, Chicago
Awards: Nominated for 8 Tony Awards, won 1 for set design.

WHO SHOULD DO THIS SHOW:

A musical by Kander & Ebb, authors of the scores for Cabaret and Chicago, with a book by the librettist for Fiddler On The Roof. That makes it easier to promote than most pieces. But this is a tough show to do, with problems and rewards. It should be done by mature casts for mature audiences only. This show will work for some colleges and universities, perhaps. Better for larger regional theaters, and professional producers.

Be Warned:

The language can be direct, and is often about relationships between men and women. A major character is a prostitute. Incredibly violent things happen, including a mob knifing and killing a woman and then walking into Church, convinced they’ve done the right thing. This show is sort of brutal, and not for every audience, or for young actors.

THE STORY: (Based on the original production, rather than the rewritten revival.)

ACT ONE: A bare stage. The company is seated in two rows, a semicircle. Three standing mics. Most of the players have musical instruments. They argue what to do now, and the call goes up for a story. The Zorba story, though it’s some 45 years old. (Older now.) They fight over the meaning of the story and its value. Then, the Leader (or the woman) intervenes and answers their argument with her own definition of what “Life Is”.

1924. The company sets up chairs, tables, a waterfront cafe in Piraeus. A man in his 30s, an intellectual named Nikos, a city man, sits alone, uncomfortable with strangers, as others order drinks. Zorba enters, a rugged, lusty man in his mid-sixties, proud and sure of himself. He announces the sea is choppy, and asks Nikos if all the luggage and books he sees are his. Nikos says he’s traveling to Crete, and Zorba suggests he take Zorba with him. They are strangers, Nikos replies. Exasperated, Zorba points out that they will not be once they’ve traveled together. He joins Nikos for a drink, self-invited. Zorba does any kind of work with his hands, expertly, he pronounces. Nikos is a teacher. Nikos is coming from Berlin, before that, Budapest.

Nikos is going to Crete because he’s been left an abandoned mine by relatives. Zorba’s thrilled, he can work as a miner, but he points out that abandoned mines are rarely filled with money. Nikos has other reasons to go, and Zorba assumes it must be a woman. It isn’t. Zorba assumes that Nikos is running away from a woman. He isn’t. Zorba is confused – what makes a man is what is in his heart and in his pants. (A line from the show.) Zorba asks if Nikos will take him with him, and Nikos thinks about it. Zorba says Nikos has a pair of scales in his head, and weighs everything. He suggests he experience lie as if everything is happening for “The First Time”. They drink and Nikos decides they will go together to Crete, and God be with them. Zorba calmly informs the young man that God and the Devil always travel together.

Morning. Outside a village cafe in Crete. Some men play backgammon or dominoes, some drink. Among them are Mavrodani, a stern hard man about 50, and his younger brother, Manolakos. The local Constable watches and talks, and they discuss the new owner of the mine, expected that day. They’re hoping he brings work with him, that he’ll re-open the mine. They fight over where he might stay. Clearly, the place is economically distressed. A pathetic man in his 20s, Pavli, joins them. He has been pursuing “the widow” without hope. They all feel she’s evil. Then she arrives, a beautiful woman in her late 20s with an air of tragedy about her. The men make lewd remarks, Mavrodani angrily stops her and demands to know why she ignore Pavli, his son. She moves on.

Nikos and Zorba arrive. They asks Nikos if there’s going to be work, and Zorba responds – anyone looking for work should report to the mine early tomorrow morning. Since Nikos knows nothing about mines, he announces that he, Zorba, is in charge. Nikos is, as always, amused with Zorba. He asks for two rooms, and since the cafe only has one, Nikos decides to stay with an old man with an empty house. Zorba and the old man haggle over the price. Another man mentions that Madame Hortense up the hill has rooms. (She’s a Frenchwoman.) Since Zorba wants to have things his way,. Nikos decides they’ll stay with the Frenchwoman up the hill. The Leader sings about the allure of the house at “The Top Of The Hill,” where someone’s waiting for you. Madame Hortense hears that two men are coming up the hill.

The shabby garden of Madame Hortense’s shabby inn. Hortense, coy, in her 50s, a faded beauty, greets Nikos and Zorba. Zorba is very interested in the lady. They take a cottage, at Zorba’s urging. She goes to get them a drink to welcome them, and Zorba admires her womanly gait. They drink, Zorba admires the lady, Nikos is amused. She tells her tale. She was once an artist, and had an arrangement with “a certain admiral.” Crete was in a state of revolution and four fleets were on the island, four admirals. They were going to blow up Crete, when she persuaded them not to by inviting them to her room. (“No Boom Boom”) Crete is still here because of her. The Admirals and chorus sing of their admiration for her. (Vive La Difference”)

Hortense’s bedroom. Zorba and Hortense dance. He tries to kiss her, she acquiesces after a moment. He compliments her extravagantly, grabs her breasts. She does not withdraw. He calls her everything from a blushing virgin (which, um, she may never have been) to a bride. Wistfully, she admits she’s never been a bride. And she always wanted to be on. That makes Zorba uncomfortable.

The entrance to the mine. Men sit and eat as Nikos and Zorba enter, and take their information. Zorba looks at the mine, and it’s been neglected, it’s falling apart. He thinks they need new equipment, and to mine 10 tons a day to make out. Nikos decides to move forward with it. Zorba hurries the men to work. The widow enters with lunch for one of the men, Mimiko, who also works for Hortense. The men again are rude to her. Nikos stops their rude display, and apologizes for the men. Nikos asks if her husband works here, but she just brought lunch for Mimiko because he’s kind to her and has no one. She starts away, and Zorba advises Nikos to go after her. It’s too fast for Nikos.

The widow’s room. And Mimiko is talking to her. He tells her the “boss”, Nikos, likes him. He likes her better. She is also not in a hurry. (“The Butterfly”.)

Morning the next day, outside Hortense’s Inn. Nikos gives Zorba a lot of money for the things the mine needs, and is worried, but then is distracted by Mimikos, who sends him a thank you gift, some fruit. Hortense catches Zorba before he goes, with a gift for “her Canavaro.” Fruit again. The two old lovers sing “Goodbye, Cannavaro”, as Nikos watches. She insists he not forget her, and he swears he will not. She implies she’d like a ring, he exits quickly.

A blacked-out stage, light on Nikos, seated reading a letter. Zorba is very late returning, many days. He says in the letter he wandered into a cafe (which is now illuminated) with some charming ladies. He met a gorgeous woman and spent Nikos’ money on her. When other women see him spending, they join in. When one calls him “grandpapa”, which did not please him. He stayed many nights entertaining the women, until he’d gone through all the money. And the women left him for younger, poor men. (“Grandpapa”) He dances wildly to show them the “inside Zorba”, the young man hidden within. He is coming home now, with some of the things he was supposed to purchase. Hortense enters, asking if the letter is from Zorba, and she has a cold, or is ill. To make her feel better, Nikos makes up an elaborate love letter to Hortense from Zorba. And he implies Zorba will bring her a ring. (Maybe it’s his little revenge?) She is thrilled, for it’s all she wants, “Only Love”.

The Leader and Chorus sing to Nikos, who has been moved by Hortense’s need for love. It is his time to make a move. (“The Bend In The Road”) The Leader tells him there’s a girl waiting for him, the night is warm, she needs no sheets… The Widow’s house appears. He hesitantly knocks on her door. She opens it, and says “You. Come in.” They embrace.

ACT TWO: The village square. (Could be in front of the village Inn again, a better use of a set.) The Chorus is seated in the center of the stage in a semi-circle again. The Priest and some townspeople carry the dead body of Pavli, who drowned himself when he could not have the Widow. (This could take place on a darkened stage, as well, with no set, it’s a very brief scene and should feel like a ritual.)

Hortense’s garden. Zorba finally arrives, as Mimiko prepares for Easter. He asks for the “Boss”, who he discovers did not come home last night. Nikos enters, deeply unhappy with Zorba. Zorba embraces the man, happy to see him – and smells woman on him. Nikos tries to be angry at the waste of money, the fact that Zorba cannot be trusted, but Zorba is merely impressed that Nikos was with the Widow. And Nikos is angry Zorba did not write to Hortense, who is heartbroken. Zorba has brought her a present! But it’s not a wedding ring, and Zorba is shocked Nikos would suggest such a thing. As Zorba explained spending the money because he’s “just a man and man is weak,” so now Nikos uses that excuse for having made up a lie, that Zorba was coming home to marry Hortense. Then, Zorba stops caring – he’ll take care of everything. And the Boss is in love!

She is ill, and he gives her his surprise…stockings. And a bow for her hair. Soap. It’s not what she expected, and she bursts into tears. Nikos is going to explain the made-up letter, when suddenly Zorba takes responsibility for it, claiming he wrote it out of loneliness. However, when Zorba discovers everything Nikos wrote on his behalf, he’s surprised and appalled. But Zorba says he wanted to marry her – when he wrote to her. That was then. But…he lies…he’s ordered a ring from Athens. Why wait, says Hortense, offering him her surprise…two rings, a man’s and a woman’s. He refuses to wear another man’s ring! She says it’s temporary – until the rings he orders arrives. She wants to be engaged now. He thinks…a long moment, and then decides, why not! They will be engaged. Married is another thing. Nikos oversees the “official rite” of becoming engaged. (“Y’assou”) The Leader and Chorus join in, and a celebration erupts.

(A song is placed here on the revival album, “Woman”, sung by Zorba, explaining to Nikos about relationships between men and women in his view, a ballad. In it, he states that women are like a “fresh spring”, and men mere passers-by.)

A road. (Bare stage?) Nikos and the Widow walk together, and he wonders what passed between them last night. He does all the talking, and tells her he wants more. He wants to know her, and for her to know him. And he understands the men here, who see a beautiful woman living alone, and want her. But she is silent. (“Why Can’t I Speak?”) She can’t find the words to tell him how much she wants him. (The lyrics were rewritten for the revival, and are stronger in the revival.) he’s convinced they have a start, something to build on.

The village square. (The Inn set?) Zorba talks the local Priest into blessing the mine when it opens, but refuses to go to Church himself. The Widow enters, moving toward the Church, when the father of the dead boy stops her. Other men join him, blocking her way. Women join them, calling “slut, murderess…kill her!” Nikos rushes for her, the father wrestles with him and Nikos throws the man down. Two other men grab Nikos,who calls for Zorba. The father prepares to knife the widow when Zorba roars for them to stop. Zorba fights the man, the Widow is hemmed in and cannot escape. Others try to pull Zorba away, but the father insists its just he and Zorba. Zorba hits him in the stomach, Zorba throws the knife away, and collects the Wido. But another man stabs her, and the crowd closes in. They murder her. The crowd heads off to Church, leaving Nikos bent over the widow’s body. Zorba begs the man to leave with him. Nikos does not move.

Darkness, a religious chant sung by monks. The mine entrance, a crowd is there for the blessing. Nikos walks in to find these people here, and is furious. Zorba planned it, As he says, “it happened…it’s over. This is now…come, have a drink.” This is too much for Nikos. A “Mine Celebration” breaks out, another dance. Nikos wants to know when the work will start, but Zorba is too busy having a party. Nikos insists, and Zorba collects a man to dynamite the first section, the killer of the Widow. The man threatens again to knife Zorba. Zorba says he’ll fight without knives. The Priest (finally) puts a stop to it. Zorba drinks with him, and he and the man go off into the mine with the wire and fuse.

Nikos takes the names of those ready to work. But there’s a sudden explosion. And then another, and a small earthquake. The Constable blocks the entrance to the mine. After a moment both men crawl out of the mine, filthy but okay. The timber collapsed. The mine is done.

Alone, Zorba and Nikos speak. Nikos cannot understand why Zorba drank with the man who killed the Widow. Zorba doesn’t even understand why Nikos would ask. He points out that revenge leads to more revenge, it never stops. He is Zorba, not God. It’s for God to forgive, and Zorba to live his own life. He tells Nikos that he, Zorba, has done terrible things – wiped out villages in the war against the Turks. But as Nikos says, that was war, this was murder. Zorba says those are just words for death. Finally, Zorba tells him about his own son’s death. He danced when his son died, and then he accepted it. Death will come for everyone. The only real death is not living a life. And then, Mimiko comes for Zorba – Hortense is not well.

Four men and the Leader take stage, dressed in black shrouds. It is another ritual. They are crows, that will soon be seen dropping from the sky. Death is coming. Hortense is in bed, dying. Zorba arrives and kicks them all out. Nikos wants to know what’s wrong with her, and Zorba points out there is nothing wrong, she’s dying. She is thinking of when she was young. (“Happy Birthday”) All her tomorrows were ahead. As she sings, he wishes her farewell. She dies. Women start stealing her possessions immediately. Nikos protests, and is ignored. They offer blessings to her as they take her things, fighting over them,. Zorba also attempts to step in and stop them, but is ignored. Finally the two men are alone in the room with her, and Zorba is clearly heartbroken. Buit Nikos…starts to dance. He is clumsy at first. But it builds. Zorba joins him. They dance until they are exhausted, and as they do, they are handed their luggage.

On the road out of the village. Zorba makes sure Nikos has everything. Nikos plans to go to Athens, but thinks instead about going wherever Zorba is going. Zorba knows Nikos will not do that, Nikos is too careful. Zorba is free because he owns nothing and needs nothing. (“I Am Free”) He lives as though he might die at any minute, and that keeps him free. They will go their separate ways, unlikely to ever see each other again. The men embrace. The Leader reprises “Life Is” with the Chorus.

THE SONGS:

“Life Is”, “The First Time”, “The Top Of The Hill”, “No Boom Boom”, “Vive La Difference”, “The Butterfly”, “Goodbye, Canavaro”, “Belly Dance”, “Grandpapa”, “Only Love”, “The Bend Of The Road”, “Y’assou”, “Why Can’t I Speak”, “Mine Celebration”, “The Crow”, “Happy Birthday”, “I Am Free”

MY OPINIONS:

As always, feel free to ignore my opinions and rating. If you do, though, don’t be surprised to discover while trying to produce this show that it’s all Greek to you…

There are a few lovely pieces of music in this show, but the score becomes redundant with Greek-isms, and kind of one note. “Life Is” is a very strong opening, very promising. And there are other good numbers, though none as strong as the opening. The idea of a score influenced strongly by Greek folk music is a good one – if sufficient musical diversity can be generated. I don’t think that was the case, here. The Leader has the best songs, generally, and they are ritualistic, which seems to fit the Greek feel better than the character and plot-driven numbers.

The book is also a somewhat mixed bag. It’s hard to decide if we are to admire and appreciate Zorba, or take him for a negligent, selfish pig. I found myself going back and forth, and did not in any way accept the end of the play when the two men embrace. Zorba had done so many unacceptable things I just didn’t buy that Nikos would forgive him. But I love the scene (in the libretto and the non-Musical movie) where the two men dance together at Hortense’s death, that is very powerful and beautiful. There is nothing the men can now do, they are powerless and know it – all that’s left is to live.

In the end, I think this is rather a depressing evening of theater. It has some very fun things in it, and some wonderful dialogue that makes me laugh out loud. Zorba is a man with his own philosophy which, when expressed, can be very funny. Nikos is a bit of a stick in the mud, who in the end is ineffectual and fairly useless, except for the one moment he sets Zorba dancing, and proves he has learned something. Like other romantic male leads in Kander and Ebb shows, like Cliff in Cabaret, Nikos is a cipher waiting for life to strike him, teach him something. It doesn’t make for a very interesting character, one we might root for.

And I have to say, I found the townspeople inexcusable, disgusting, repulsive in the literal sense that they pushed me away from the show. They are so immoral, vile, blatantly stupid and superstitious that one can only feel they deserve anything horrible that happens to them. A grown man knifes a woman to death and the rest of the town helps him??? Really? Inexcusable in the writing and in fact. The problem is that these sub-humans do horrible things to others, including murder – and without consequence! And Zorba advises forgiveness. Revenge leads to more revenge, it never stops. Okay, but how about some law and order, or some rationality…because they commit murder and there are no consequences, so what is to stop them from doing it again and again, as they doubtless have. Who needs revenge to sponsor murder, when you have free and easy murder to sponsor murder? This is where the philosophy of this show crumbles, I’m afraid, and the ideas in the original book and this libretto leave a great deal to be desired. I found this aspect of the book unacceptable, to put it mildly. It truly makes me want to give up on the show, and there’s no way around it.

Kander and Ebb are generally not very good at the love song thing or deeply-felt sentiment, and this show is no exception. “Why Can’t I Speak” is an ineffective love song, which is unfortunate since the Widow who sings it will be dead shortly.

They’re better at irony, comedy, and grand wide-open anthemic pieces. Again, this show is no exception. “Happy Birthday”, as Hortense is dying, is particularly not effective, I think, a real misfire unusual for these writers. It’s really heartless, perhaps a good idea, but so badly executed as to be a bit embarrassing at exactly the wrong part of the play. You can help this number by completely eliminating all the background vocals. It should be about the death of Hortense and nothing else. Commentary vastly weakens the moment.

But the moments that do work work well. There’s a lot of comedy that plays, and some fine, dramatic moments. As I said, really a mixed bag.

I think an audience will accept or dislike this show predicated on the likability of your two lead actors. But I also think you could cast the two most loved men on Earth, and they might have a hard time making this material acceptable. Whether or not you choose top do it would depend, I think, on your personal reaction top the material. And that’s, well, personal. As Zorba would advise, do what seems right for you.

I also believe the show should be presented in as intimate a manner as possible.  As I will describe, a smaller orchestration with musicians on stage, an ensemble playing all the roles but the two leads, with masks, minimal sets, all will help make the show feel fresh and new.  And bring its cost way down.

MY RATING: * (A better-than-average and interesting show, right for many groups.)

 

PRODUCTION CONCERNS AND IDEAS:

DIFFICULTY OF MUSIC:

The music contains interesting rhythmic variation that will keep a good Musical Director busy playing and teaching it. It isn’t a simple score. You’ll need an experienced M.D. Who plays well, with good energy. Your five leads sing 90% of the music.

Zorba – Baritone, character-driven voice. The acting must show through the singing.

Nikos – Lyric Baritone, strong mid range.

Hortense – Mezzo, character-driven voice, doesn’t need to be a great singer, but needs to be a very strong actress.

The Widow – Mezzo-soprano. Should have good emotional expression when singing.

The Leader – Alto with a powerful belt, ringing high notes, a huge instrument with lots of life in it.

Ensemble – Many roles, mostly Greek men and women of Crete, who I’m tempted to describe based on their actions in the show as inbred. Ensemble will all play roles, some of them large. Cast men of varying ages, 20s-60s, who can all belt, and dance in the Greek fashion. All must belt somewhat.

DIFFICULTY OF DANCE, CHOREOGRAPHIC CONCERNS:

There can be a lot of dance in this show, of the theatrical/Greek type.

“Life Is”, “The First Time”, “The Top Of The Hill”, “No Boom Boom”, “Vive La Difference”, “The Butterfly”, “Goodbye, Canavaro”, “Belly Dance”, “Grandpapa”, “Only Love”, “The Bend Of The Road”, “Y’assou”, “Why Can’t I Speak”, “Mine Celebration”, “The Crow”, “Happy Birthday”, “I Am Free”

CASTING CONCERNS:

Zorba – Plays in his 60s. Greek. Charismatic, handsome, masculine. An extremely direct man, powerfully built, used to physical labor. Plays hard, works sort of hard. A fantastic womanizer, madly in love with women so long as no commitment is involved. A man who has learned to accept what life provides and ask for nothing. Stubborn, certain he is always right, able to damage others in order to protect what he sees as his rights, his views. Dishonest when it comes to the property of others. Not an entirely admirable man, but one who is very alive. Must move decently, sing decently., but it’s all character-driven. Cast for type, acting, voice, movement. A star.

Nikos – 20s-30s. A solitary man, educated, wealthy. Painfully shy about relationships with women. His emotional development seems to be stunted, and Zorba works to change that. Afraid of much of life. Courtly, well-mannered and spoken. Cast for type, acting, voice, some movement.

Hortense – 50s-60s, a Greek woman of vast experience with men, and in the world. Sweet-natured, she has a strangely low opinion of herself in certain regards. She was once doubtless beautiful, and still makes an effort. But she should be somewhat frail from the start, as she is dying. Cast for acting, type, voice (entirely character-driven, does not need a brilliant voice).

The Widow – 20s-30s. Beautiful, the most desirable woman in town. Men want her, women hate her. Solitary, she feels things deeply, and is constant danger in this town. Cast for type, acting, voice.

The Leader – Ageless. A female, Greek, a powerful presence. Charismatic, she leads the ritual; that is this show. Cast for voice, type, acting, movement. Must do everything well. A star.

Mimiko – Works for Hortense. Probably a man in his 405-50s, worn by life. Cast for acting, type.

Manolakas – Mavrodani’s younger brother, equally stern. Cast for acting, type.

Mavrodani – 50-iah, stern, hard. Cast for acting, type.

Pavli – Mavrodani’s weak, unattractive son, in his 20s. A hopeless loser. Cast for acting, type.

Ensemble – Greek. All must dance fairly well, belt, sing decently. All will have lines, just about, and must do some acting.

SETS:

The show starts out in a sort of Greek amphitheater setting, a bare stage with a neutral background and the actors facing the audience. (I’d remove the thee mics.) I would play the whole show out in that neutral space, which would provide the show some continuity.

The cafe in Piraeus can be a nice table, nice umbrella, nice chairs – to contrast with the Inn in Crete, where things should be run down and distressed, the next scene. The contrast will inform the audience immediately. Also, add a drop to one side, the Church in that small village, including its door and perhaps a small stoop.

The garden outside Hortense’s inn is shabby, and can be a dropped portion of a cottage wall overgrown with vines and weeds, a small wooden table and a few chairs. Her bedroom can be opposite on the same stage, a screen separating the two spaces. It is all French style, so dropping a wall with works of “art”, and rolling on an appropriate and much-used bed, would be enough. Frills on the bed.

The entrance to the mine is next. Clear the other sets (lift them away and roll out the set pieces). The sound of the ocean nearby would be helpful. This set can be neutral, a dark stage perhaps with a looming dark hill in the background, not well lit, ominous, waiting – the mine.

Then, drop in Hortense’s garden again, and light it. Next is a blacked out stage, rising on a busy bar. Small tables, chairs, lots of bodies. But we need to see Hortense and Nikos in her garden at the end, and the change must be instantaneous. Perhaps leave her set up, extreme to one side (where it should always be). After all, Nikos is reading about what happened. Leave him lit, reacting, and have Hortense join him.

The Widow’s. Just a door, dropped dead center, appropriate to her place.

Act II, I suggest placing it on the In in Crete set again, with the Church. Then, Hortense’s garden, the exact change you did in Act I.

A road where Nikos and the widow talk. A bare stage will do, and you can surround them with the waiting Leader and Chorus, watching.

Drop in the Crete Inn and Church again for Scene IV.

The mine, your bare stage with a looming dark shape at the back. The sound of the ocean.

A bare stage for “The Crow,” lights then rise on Hortense’s bedroom.

A road – the empty stage, the Leader and Chorus surrounding the action gain, perhaps.

Worked with furniture on a bare stage, and just these few drops (The Crete Inn and Church, Hortense’ garden and bedroom, the looming shadow of the mine) should make this a relatively inexpensive and easy set to get done. Still, no job for a novice.

COSTUMES:

All Greek, right. On Crete, they are dirt poor. Their clothing would show this.

Nikos is well-dressed for the time, a wealthy man. Zorba owns nothing, as he says.

The Leader and Chorus wear robes of some sort, as is traditional in Greek Drama. They might also wear masks, but we need to see features. One approach to this show that would enormously drop the cast size is to have the Chorus players play everything in the show, using masks for each new character played, except for perhaps Zorba and Nikos. The Leader might even double for The Widow! This would be a very creative approach to this show, and help rejuvenate it. It might drop the cast to as low as 16 or so, and make the show far more producible. (And mics could be embedded into the masks. But the mask must stay on the person while dancing.)

“The Crow” requires something special, and again, I’m not sure if it falls under costuming, or set. Depends on how you do it. This may need to be built.

Most costuming for this show can be found in thrift stores and closets. You should not need to rent much of anything – perhaps dresses in period for the Widow and Hortense, and robes for the Chorus and Leader. Not too tough a job.

PROPS:

Masks might be considered to be props. Have that discussion with your Director, if you’re using masks. Other props include Nikos’ bags, gifts Zorba gives Hortense, letters, bottles of booze and glasses. Probably going to be a lot more. Work closely with the Director and Choreographer.

LIGHTING:

If played largely on a bare stage as I’ve described, then the lighting must be top-notch, rich, complex and effective. Moods change very quickly in this show. And areas will need to be isolated for action on a largely dark stage. The Greek day has its own kind of light, and should be duplicated as best as possible. A big job, not for a novice.

MAKE-UP:

Well, if you use masks, the make-up will be somewhat limited. Your biggest work with or without will be Hortense, who would be made up as if she was a younger woman. But over all, a very easy job.

KEY PERSONNEL (The ones you MUST get right.):

Director, Musical Director, Choreographer, Set Designer, Mask Designer (if called for), Zorba, Nikos, The Leader, Hortense.

MY THOUGHTS:
This show comes down to personal taste. I think it can be produced interestingly, and with far less expense than it is written to have, by going the route I describe for sets, and using masks and a cast of about 16. I think this will work well for this show, with a very creative Director at the helm. Can it be done- yes, I think so. Should it be done? That’s your call.