September 7, 2015

A selfie with a celebrity has replaced the autograph as a coveted prize, but a selfie with a legendary hero, the great Greek warrior Odysseus? Well, that would beat Beyoncé, hands down. A lucky young prince gains such a digital trophy in the brash, funny and heart-stirring musical version of Homer’s “The Odyssey” being presented by the Public Theater at the Delacorte Theater through Monday night. As that selfie moment suggests, this adaptation of the epic poem written (or, as some believe, sung) a couple of millenniums ago has been written by Todd Almond, who also composed its lovely and ample score, and conceived and directed by Lear deBessonet, as an era-spanning fantasy that views the perilous adventures of its hero through a winking contemporary lens. It’s the latest production from the Public Theater’s Public Works department, following equally free-form adaptations of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and “The Winter’s Tale.” Performing alongside a handful of professional actors in the central roles are various dance and vocal groups from across New York — all five boroughs — and nonprofessional actors. What makes these productions such a lively treat is the manner in which the performers come together to create a vibrant theatrical tapestry; you may be able to tally the newcomers onstage, but in this embracing context they bring as much pleasure as the polished performers. (And sometimes, by the way, you can’t really tell the difference.)