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Guide to EPIC: The Musical

Guide to EPIC: The Musical

What is EPIC?

EPIC: The Musical is a musical production based on Homer’s The Odyssey and written by Jorge Rivera-Herrans. This production first gained popularity through TikTok, with Rivera-Herrans highlighting his songwriting process and inspiration. More recently, the musical has gradually been published as multiple original concept albums. 

Jorge(Jay) Rivera-Herrans was raised in Puerto Rico, and is the main songwriter of EPIC. He also voices Odysseus, the main character. Rivera-Herrans first began working on this musical while in University. Being inspired by video games, animation, and anime, he said, “I knew I wanted it to have many characters and I knew I wanted…  random things…. the ocean and boss battles and monsters and sword fights.” 

When pitching this idea to his peers, some thought he was talking of the Odyssey. It wasn’t until a bit later when he did some research, and realized the potential for this musical. From there, he floated around some ideas for some time, before transitioning his writing to TikTok. 

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First posting in January of 2021, Rivera-Herrans has been documenting his songwriting journey through social media. He posts about songs he’s working on, and interesting details in the music itself. 

Storyline

EPIC is based on The Odyssey, an ancient Greek poem by Homer. Odysseus, king of Ithaca, a cunning yet compassionate man, has left his wife Penelope and infant son Telemachus to go fight the Trojans in the Trojan War. 

The story begins at the end of this war, after ten years, when Odysseus is the one who deals the final blow. With the help of Athena, he constructs a great wooden horse and places it at the gates of Troy. The Trojans, believing this is an offering of surrender, take the horse into the center of the city for a celebration.

In the middle of the night, the soldiers sneak out and sack Troy. People are killed, temples are burned, and Odysseus faces his personal dilemmas. When the sun rises, the Greeks turn up victorious. With this victory, and the survival of his entire crew, Odysseus can now begin his journey home after a decade away.

However, it’s not that easy. When ransacking Troy, Odysseus and his men angered many of the gods. Now, in addition to the perilous journey, they must face the consequences the gods throw at them. They will battle monsters, disasters, death, and magic as they’ve never seen. 

EPIC is themed around the concept of ruthlessness, and “whether it’s a necessary component in protecting that which you care about.” Throughout the story, Odysseus is placed in positions where he must do terrible things to protect his crew and make it back to his family

Unique Things

One unique thing about EPIC is the instrumentals, and how they add to the storyline. Each character has a unique instrument that plays when they are present in a scene. The usage of this varies from character to character and can help the audience pick up on more subtle details. 

For example, Odysseus’s associated instrument is the guitar. This, however, changes slightly depending on his emotions during the song and his actions. When he is showing compassion and reminiscing about life in Ithaca, there is more acoustic guitar in the audio. To contrast this, when he is displaying his cunning, calculated side, the instrumentals switch to an electric guitar. This duality can be displayed in the very first song of the show, “The Horse and the Infant.” 

The divineness of the character also plays an important role in the music. Rivera-Herrans wrote, “As events, characters, and locations become more magical and divine, more electronic elements are incorporated into the music.” This can be seen in Circe’s music. Her musical trademark is more broadly the strings, but as she’s a witch, there are many more electronic instrumentals. Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, also has strings in her music, but because she’s a mortal, they are more legato. 

Another interesting aspect of EPIC is the casting. Because of its foundations in TikTok, Rivera-Herrans made it open and accessible for anyone to audition. The process consisted of dueting an instrumental of the song. He emphasized, “…anyone, regardless of your age, gender, location in the world, anything– can audition.” This allows for a very diverse cast, with many different people from across the world. 

Media

EPIC is broken up into sagas, which are continuously released as they are produced. There are nine of these, broken up by certain themes, foes, and places. In total, there are 40 songs across these sagas, each fully sung through. 

The first saga, EPIC: The Troy Saga was released on December 25, 2022, three and a half years after Rivera-Herrans first formulated the concept. This album of five songs featured Armando Julián as Eurilochus, Steven Dookie as Polites, Teagan Early as Athena, Luke Holt as Zeus, and Rivera-Herrans himself as Odysseus. 

EPIC: The Cyclops Saga with four songs released about a month later on January 27, 2023, with the same cast and Jorge Rivera-Herrans again as Polyphemus. 

Almost a year later, EPIC: The Ocean Saga was released on December 25, 2023. This album had four songs and had the addition of Kira Beth Stone as Aeolus, Steven Rodriguez as Poseidon, Anna Casey as Penelope, and Miguel Veloso.

EPIC: The Circe Saga releases this year. This saga will have four songs. This will additionally have Talia Sindel as Circe and Troy Toherty as Hermes. It will be released on February 14 on all music streaming platforms. 

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Adelaide Kota, Features Editor
Sophomore, she/her "I prefer my misery to come at me in stages, so I can acclimate on the way."— George Cubbins Have fun!

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