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Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo

Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo

HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL with book, music and lyrics by Cliff Jones, with additional music and lyrics by Craig Fair, has undergone a few incarnations since its Broadway run in the late 70s. The launch of a re-imagined 21st Century version, produced by David Carver Music, magnificently directed by Bill Castellino, with conductor Doug Oberhamer's music direction and choreography by Janet Roston, certainly proves there's something still rockin' in Denmark! And even those not familiar with the Shakespeare's classic tragedy will be able to understand the story, performed as a sung-through musical with enough heartfelt emotions on display to leave no doubt as to how and why the characters interact with one another to mostly bad results.

Now onstage at the El Portal Theatre in NoHo, this latest incarnation Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo is perhaps the most elaborate version musically, creatively and visually, according to producer David Carver, thanks to the brilliant artistic vision of the show's technical wizards, including scenic and video design by Nick Iwaskow which transforms a multi-level gray set into the castle wall from which Marcellus and Horatio first glimpse the visiting ghost of Hamlet's dead father to the many rooms within its stone walls as well as the graveyard with its spindly tree branches shaking in the wind; John A. Garofalo and Nick Iwaskow astounding lighting design which focuses attention exactly where it needs to be to enhance the mood of each scene/musical number; Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo sound design by Leon Rothenberg and Jonathan A. Burke which balances the dominating level of nine musicians backstage to allow the soul-searching lyrics sung by the talented cast to be understood as well as heard; and Mylette Nora's modern costume design adaptation which allows pieces from Elizabethan England to seamlessly blend with color-coordinated ensembles across many time periods which reflect not only the mood but the social standing of each character.

But of course kudos must go to the remarkable cast of players who so enthusiastically lend their talents to the telling of this most tragic of tales, told through a total of 40 songs, Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo each of which forwards not only the storyline but the emotional turmoil going on within their souls. Part love story mixed with family turmoil and revenge, HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL succeeds on all levels, beginning with handsome Payson Lewis as the tormented Prince of Denmark, torn between his need for love after being jilted by Ophelia and his desire for revenge against his stepfather Claudius (Kevin Bailey) who poisoned his own brother, the rightful King, in order to take over the throne and marry his widow Gertrude (Carly Thomas Smith), Hamlet's youthfully appealing mother. All of these performers can belt a tune with the best of them and will pull you into their heartbreak and internal torment so well that you sense it to your own soul.

Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo Of course there is another family involved, led by its patriarch Polonius (Larry Cedar, dressed more traditionally to perhaps reflect his conservative nature), who is not played as a fool but as a parent concerned for his children's and the Queen's welfare, his son Laertes (attention-grabbing Ian Littleworth whose final duel with Hamlet during "The Joust" will leave you breathless) and daughter Ophelia (Fatima El-Bashir) whose struggle to honor her father's wishes to break up with Hamlet even though their love binds them together ultimately drives her to take her own life. Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo Hamlet's best friends Horatio and Marcellus, who we meet on the parapet during "The First Watch" when they first see the Ghost (Steve B. Green), are portrayed by Thomas Hobson and Michael Deni as full realized young men doing their best to support their friend, even when his behavior confuses them. And of course, at the end the two are left wondering if by telling Hamlet what they saw, they have caused the death of many. Certainly the truth needed to be told, but at what cost? Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo Other supporting players, courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Justin Michael Wilcox and Alli Miller) who are introduced in the Banquet Hall during a cleverly comical ensemble number named for the two of them, add a bit of much needed comedy during their initial scene. But when they are summoned by Claudius in Act 2 to take Hamlet to England with them, the serious nature of his request challenges their dedication to the throne, which of course ultimately leads to their demise aboard the ship, from which Hamlet returns to seek out his final revenge. Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo Ensemble players take on many roles, both royal as well as the band of players who "grab the conscience of the King" thanks to Hamlet's play within a play to dramatize what a vile thing Claudius has done, which of course seals the death of both men. These talented triple-threat performers include Deanna Anthony, Marie Gutierrez, Tim McGarrigal, Bruce Merkle and Julia Springer, who are often joined by other featured players as courtiers. And thanks to Janet Roston's imaginative choreography, each of these talented performers have their own, well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo On all levels, there is something for everyone in this totally new production of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL and I encourage you to get your tickets soon as performances are scheduled through February 23 only at the El Portal Theater in NoHo before the show's world tour begins later this year. And I guarantee you do not have to be a fan of Shakespeare's story or an expert in understanding his Elizabethan English as this fabulously inventive, sung-through musical extravaganza is told using modern lyrics which everyone will understand during this theatrically entertaining rock show.

The World Tour of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL continues Wednesday-Sunday at 8pm through February 23 Review: Re-Imagined 21st Century Version of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL Begins World Tour at the El Portal in NoHo at the El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets range from $49.50 - $99.50 and can be purchased online at HamletTheRockMusical.com or by phone at 866-811-4111. For groups of 10 or more call 818-508-4200. For additional information, visit HamletTheRockMusical.com

Photo credit: Barry Weiss



Pasadena Chorale Seeks Student Composers For Its Listening To The Future Program Photo
The Pasadena Chorale has opened the application process for its student-mentor composition program – Listening to the Future, now in its seventh year. The Chorale is looking to accept Pasadena area high school students from ninth through 12th grade to enroll into its Listening to the Future program that will begin in January 2023 and run through June 2023.

Margaret Cho to Launch LIVE AND LIVID! Tour in 2023 Photo
Margaret Cho - the five-time Grammy and Emmy nominated comedian/actress has announced she will tour the country with her brand new Live and LIVID! tour. The Live and LIVID! tour will hit theaters across North America with tickets on-sale Friday, December 9.

HOME FRONT by Warren Leight to Have West Coast Premiere at Victory Theatre in January Photo
This country will break your heart. The Victory Theatre Center will present the West Coast premiere of Home Front by Tony® Award-winning playwright Warren Leight (Side Man). Leight’s moving portrait of a post-World War II interracial marriage runs January 13 through February 19 at The Victory Theatre Center in Burbank.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of INVINCIBLE - THE MUSICAL World Premiere Photo
See photos from opening night of Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts' WORLD PREMIERE production of INVINCIBLE - THE MUSICAL, featuring the songs of PAT BENATAR & NEIL GIRALDO, running through December 18, 2022, in The Wallis' Bram Goldsmith Theater.


From This Author - Shari Barrett

Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in secondary sc... (read more about this author)


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