“Hamlet the Rock Musical” – “Hamlet” reimagined with 35+ original songs, a rock and roll swagger, incredible stage craft, and inventive, contemporary story telling.
In 1976 on Broadway, just 11 songs into the two-hour performance, the audience erupted into a show-stopping standing ovation. That, and the well-earned, nightly, show-ending standing ovations proved how powerful and moving this musical was in ’76 and will be again in February, with the re-imagined 21st century version of “Hamlet the Rock Musical.”
Premiering Friday, February 14 at El Portal Theatre, award-winning director Bill Castellino (“Cagney,” “Grumpy Old Men,” “Lizzie Borden,” “Rent,” “Gypsy,” “Rocky Horror,” “Carousel,” “Music Man,” “West Side Story,” “Tommy”) helms the anthem-driven original score by composer / lyricist Cliff Jones with additional music, lyrics and orchestrations by Craig Fair, who is collaborating on arrangements with multi-talented music director and conductor Doug Oberhamer. Based on Shakespeare’s timeless classic, this “HAMLET” fills the theatre with a rock and roll swagger, inventive staging, incredible state-of-the-art technology, and muscular contemporary dance.
The multifaceted cast includes Payson Lewis (Hamlet), Kevin Bailey (Claudius), Carly Thomas Smith (Gertrude), Fatima El–Bashir (Ophelia), Thomas Hobson (Horatio), Ian Littleworth (Laertes), Larry Cedar (Polonius), Michael Deni (Marcellus), Justin Michael Wilcox (Rosencrantz), Alli Miller (Guildenstern), Steve B Green (Ghost/Priest), Deanna Anthony (Ensemble), Marie Gutierrez (Ensemble), Tim McGarrigal (Ensemble), Bruce Merkle (Ensemble), and Julia Springer (Ensemble). The dynamic cast was brought together by respected and award-winning casting director Michael Donovan and casting associate Richie Ferris.
The ‘live’ orchestra includes Justin Smith (Guitar), Anthony Lucca (Keyboards), Rachael Coosaia (Cello), John Fumo (Trumpet), Ido Meshulam (Trombone), Danielle Ondarza (French Horn), Rick Shaw (Bass Guitar) and Mark Converse (Drums).
The creative team includes award winning L.A. choreographer Janet Roston, Tony Award-winning sound designer Leon Rothenberg, sound designer Jonathan Burke, set, video/lighting designer Nick Iwaskow, and NAACP Award-winning costume designer Mylette Nora.
Concert producer David Carver (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Aerosmith, Bob Seger, Sheryl Crow, etc.) recalls previous versions of the production where during intermission, “I watched people literally leave their seats and go straight to the box office and buy tickets for the next available performance. The shows were that good. With the cast and creative talent assembled, and additions of elaborate sets, lighting and video projection, the shows that were that good will be even more spectacular.”
Is this a world premiere of the new “Hamlet The Rock Musical?”
Yes. There has been a few incarnations of this production in the past, but since the Broadway run in the late 70’s I think I can say this production, with its world premiere in Hollywood, will be the most elaborate version musically, creatively and visually. Bill Castellino (Director) and Janet Roston (Choreographer) have spent an enormous amount of time ensuring that the story of Hamlet is told not only through the lyrics of the songs, but the direction and choreography. We’ve added a fantastic lighting and video projection component to the production to support the vision of Bill and Janet and make this a truly 21st century version of the 16th century play.
Why did you select the El Portal Theatre?
It’s a legendary theatre with legendary people running it, including Pegge “The Legend” Forrest. Truthfully, the stage wasn’t really big enough for our vision but we managed to fit our production and orchestra into it, and in the process tested the patience and hard work of the El management and staff. They have been excellent and we are elated that we could bring pretty much our entire vision for this production into their theatre.
What is the future for this musical? Where does the show go after El Portal?
For me, the most important people in this equation or any concert I produce, are the people who spend their hard-earned money and take time from their busy lives to come and see the shows I produce. Once we gauge their reaction and receive their feedback after the El shows, plus perform our own analysis, I will decide where the show goes next. There are great theatre markets in all of California and indeed the entire country. Part of my vision is to perhaps take the show to smaller markets that may not see a lot of musical theatre come to their city or town. I am in the fortunate position to know that, musically and lyrically, this show will receive standing ovations every night. That is a fait accompli. It’s a moving, energetic, soul shaking, chilling, and emotional show. What’s left is for the L.A. cast to deliver those elements and make the fait accompli a reality. I’ve seen the cast in rehearsals. They got this.
What makes this musical something to see?
Where do I begin? A great L.A. cast, great director and choreographer. In music, it all starts with a song and in our case there’s more than 35 of them. The show is a completely sung through musical. Original composer Cliff Jones has written a brilliant score with a lot of lyrics ripped right from the play Hamlet. He originally balanced pop, rock and traditional musical theatre genres to create a very exciting musical and with his blessing we brought in the talents of Craig Fair and Doug Oberhamer to create the 21st century vibe of Cliff’s original 1970’s version. Musically, theatrically, artistically, and even technologically there’s something for everyone from ages 10 to 100. People will be taken on a roller coaster ride for sure. You will feel like you are in a rock show and a theatre show all at the same time.
El Portal Theatre
5269 Lankershim Blvd.
NoHo Arts District
Opening night gala: Friday, February 14 – 8pm
Saturday, February 15 – 8pm
Sunday, February 16 – 8pm
Wednesday, February 19 – 8pm
Thursday, February 20 – 8pm
Friday, February 21 – 8pm
Saturday, February 22 – 8pm
Sunday, February 23 – 8pm
Tickets by phone: 866.811.4111 (p) 818.508.4200
More Info: https://www.hamlettherockmusical.com/
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