Find My Way Home (1988)

Story, Choreography, Direction – John Kelly
Music – Alban Berg, Noel Coward, Claude Debussy, George Gershwin, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Modest Mussorgsky, Giuseppi Verdi, Marek Weber
Musical Direction – Jeff Halpern
Set design – Huck Snyder (1998 version by Scott Pask after Huck’s original design)
Film Sequences – Anthony Chase
Lighting Design – Stan Pressner
Costume Design – Gary Lisz
Hair and Makeup Design – Bobby Miller
Costume Mistress – Hebe Joy

Premiere: Dance Theatre Workshop, New York, April 1988. Revivals: with musical direction by Roberto Pace, Colony Theater, Miami Beach, Florida, May 1998, and Dance Theatre Workshop, New York, 2002.

WITH: John Beal/Gregory Purnhagen/Robert Osborne (Mr. Stone); Kyle de Camp (Eurydice); Steven Craig (Cerberus); Katie Geyssinger/Marion Capriotti (Elena Main); Terry Hollis (Amore); John Kelly (Orfeo); Marleen Menard (La Morte); Byron Suber/Tony Boutte (Truman Lowe); Vivan Trimble/Dina Emerson (Mrs. Gray); and Melissa Wynn/Ramona Morgan (Lea St. Louis).


Find My Way Home is a re-telling of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, a myth that has resonated with me since childhood. Orpheus was the great musician of antiquity; it is said that when he sang, rocks wept and the trees uprooted themselves, trying to follow him. It is also a story of loss and love––when his wife Eurydice is killed, an anguished Orpheus resolves to venture into the Underworld, which in mythology is a place more like our heaven, and tries to get her back.

            In the early 1980s, I had blinders on. Not that I was oblivious to what was going on around me, because I wasn’t. I’d lost an important friend to AIDS in 1982; he was a painter, my mentor and lover. But I made a conscious decision that being an activist in the streets wasn’t the best place for me. I decided that my voice and body could be put to more effective use on stage in front of people, prodding them to consider the zeitgeist and reality of what was going on, and in the process – moving them. I belonged here, to publicly address my experience, feelings, and perspectives around the AIDS epidemic. My Friends and lovers were dying.

            Find My Way Home began as shorter works that I performed at the Pyramid Club. I couldn’t let go of my desire to translate this timeless myth and its universal themes of love, loss, death and resurrection into a socially urgent and recognizable twentieth-century context. I felt drawn to Orpheus, and I loved Gluck’s music. It was an oasis in the midst of this hell.

            In its final form, Find My Way Home was my biggest production yet. It had more people, more set elements, live music––almost every aspect about it was bumped up a notch. The setting of the work was a metropolis during the Great Depression. Orfeo is a famous radio crooner who meets Eurydice, a lowly parlor maid, at a private society gathering. He captures her heart, and they experience brief marital bliss until she is torn from his life and killed in an automobile crash. Grief-stricken, Orfeo loses his sight, but, desperate to reclaim his lost love, he ventures into the Underworld with the aid of a walking stick. First, though, he is confronted by the Furies––dancers in the midst of a Depression-era dance marathon. As The blinded Orfeo sings and charms them with his voice, the exhausted dancers drop to the floor one by one, allowing Orfeo to pass into the Underworld, which turns out to be a 1920s speakeasy, not unlike OZ, rendered vivid color.

            Like the original myth, Orfeo finds his bride, and their union is prescribed by the proviso that he not look at her until they reach the Earth’s surface. He instigates the exodus by leading a conga line back into the land of the living, but Eurydice, confused and fearful, screams for his attention. Orfeo gives in, looks at her and instantly loses her again as she is sucked back into the black void. He stands alone in his own great Depression and sings the famous lament Che Faro Senza Eurydice in a sober white light.

© John Kelly 2019/2001

  • Super 8mm Film Stool