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By Bob Carlton
Directed by Gabriel Barre
Music Direction by Greg Pliska
Starring Tony Award nominees STEVEN BOYER, ROBERT CUCCIOLI, PATRICK PAGE, and MARY TESTA, along with KIM EXUM, KEVIN R. FREE, JO LAMPERT, AMY SPANGER and a cosmos of intergalactic luminaries. Astrophysicist NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON will beam in for a special appearance!
Prepare to blast off with this musical space odyssey of Shakespearean proportions. Exploding with over thirty cosmic hits of classic rock-n-roll, and playfully based on The Tempest and the cinematic sci-fi classic, this fun-filled musical rockets Shakespeare’s beloved characters from stage to space as Captain Tempest crash lands on the planet D’Illyria, inhabited only by the mad scientist Doctor Prospero, his daughter Miranda, and their trusty robot Ariel.
With songs including “Great Balls of Fire,” “Shake Rattle and Roll,” “The Monster Mash,” and “Good Vibrations” along with some of Shakespeare’s most iconic phraseology catapulted through hyperspace into a campy concoction, this rare opportunity to experience this Olivier Award-winning musical is not to be missed.
This is an important intergalactic fundraiser for Red Bull Theater. Proceeds help to make all our programs possible.
Return to Forbidden Planet will also feature Charlotte Maltby, Jeffrey Eugene Johnson, Ben Jones, Salisha Thomas in the cast, plus a live band: Matt Deitchman, Jessie Nelson, Pearl Rhein, and Jenny Hill with music direction by Greg Pliska; choreography by Tracy Bersley, costumes by Heather C. Jackson, projections by Joshua Thorson, sound by Patrick LaChance, and lighting by Paul Hudson.
Special cameo appearances will include F. Murray Abraham, Bryan Batt, Emily Bergl, Arnie Burton, Keith Hamilton Cobb, Veanne Cox, Paige Davis, Ann Harada, Chad Kimball, Crista Moore, Sarah Rice, Laila Robins, Derek Smith, Emily Swallow, and Marc Vietor,
KEVIN R. FREE
ABOUT THE SHOW
Be not afeared. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears…
– The Tempest (Act III, Scene ii)
"Return to the Forbidden Planet is a desecration, recreation, or consecration, depending on whom you ask,” according to Theatre Week when the show opened in New York in 1991 at the Variety Arts Theater. Like its forebear The Rocky Horror Show, some fell in love with it, some were angered by it and some were just baffled. This was a show that combined three elements that were unlikely to meld: classic rock and roll, early science fiction movies, and Shakespeare’s masterful final play, The Tempest. Yet somehow it all worked. In hindsight we can see that Return to the Forbidden Planet, which trades in the sly, self-referential humor that musical theatre came to embrace in the 1990s, resembles other quirky shows that came after it, like Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Urinetown, and Spelling Bee, but also reaches back to the largely subliminal social commentary of Rocky Horror, Grease, and the original "Star Trek." This was a show that spoke to the end of the Cold War and speaks to us again today in a new era of a global anxiety.
While wacky and chaotic on the surface, the show cannily incorporates the serious themes of its sources — the idea of expanding human consciousness with new technology that unknowingly releases the dangerous genie of the human id, testing the limits of absolute power. Prospero’s use of telegenesis stands in, metaphorically, for the creation of blogs, viral videos, discussion groups, etc., modes of communication which will change the world as much as electricity and television have. Through the internet and all its various applications, we are developing many new technologies that expand the boundaries of human consciousness. Imagine what technology will look like in twenty-five years and Prospero’s Id Monster suddenly seems a bit less far-fetched. The adaptations from Shakespeare to sci-fi in the film, Forbidden Planet (1956), and then in Bob Carlton’s musical, have as their background the notion of a final frontier: The New World in The Tempest (as the first accounts of the New World were being published in England) and Outer Space in Forbidden Planet. They are adventure stories about the physical world that become adventures in the psychological world.
The Tempest uses the metaphor of a storm to represent the upheaval and sweeping changes the real world was suffering and it is used again in the film to play on the fears of a 1950s sci-fi audience during the Cold War. And now the metaphor is transformed again, turning the shaking and rattling of rock and roll into a comic sci-fi meteor storm for a postmodern, 21st century musical theatre audience. The rock musical returns Shakespeare’s story to its meta-theatrical roots, commenting on itself and its creative antecedents. And ultimately, it’s perhaps a subversive (and joyful) suggestion that the poetry of good rock and roll is worthy of the poetry of Shakespeare -- both are eloquent, truthful expressions of human emotion and psychology, designed to tell great stories to a wide, popular audience. It’s a philosophy that makes Shakespeare less foreboding and rock and roll less trivial.
From Inside Return to the Forbidden Planet by Scott Miller, Artistic Director, New Line Theatre
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Carlton (1950-2018) was an English theater director and writer, best known for creating and directing Return to the Forbidden Planet. A playwright and director for theater and television, he was the Artistic Director of the Bubble Theatre Company, where he premiered Return to the Forbidden Planet. It later moved to the Tricycle Theatre in London and then to the West End in 1989. It won the Olivier Award for Best Musical for both 1989 and 1990. Carlton revived Return of the Forbidden Planet in 2012 at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, which he led from 1997-2014.
Return to the Forbidden Planet is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.
CASTING SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
TICKETS RANGE FROM $49-$300
Most include a tax-deductible donation to Red Bull Theater
A seat fit for a superstar, plus post-performance reception, space rations to enjoy during the show, and a $250 tax-deductible donation.
An exceptional seat in the house, plus post-performance reception, space rations to enjoy during the show, and a $100 tax-deductible donation.
A stellar seat, plus space rations for the show, and a $50 tax-deductible donation.
A great seat, plus space rations to enjoy during the show, and a $25 tax-deductible donation.
A standard seat and space rations to enjoy during the show
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