Complete Cast Announced for Starry Reading of RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET
Red Bull Theater today announced the cast for the one-night-only, all-star benefit concert performance of the Olivier Award-winning Best Musical Return to the Forbidden Planet, a musical of Shakespearean proportions by Bob Carlton. The 2019-'20 Season kick-off event will take place Monday October 21st at the Peter Norton Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street).
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 is a rare opportunity for today's New York audiences to experience this Olivier Award-winning musical.
Gabriel Barre, who starred in the original New York production, will direct a cast featuring Steven Boyer (Broadway: Hand to God - Lortel and Clarence Derwent Awards, Tony and Drama League nominations), Robert Cuccioli (Broadway: Jekyll & Hyde - Tony Award nomination, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Les Miserables), Kim Exum (Broadway: The Book of Mormon), Kevin R. Free (Dave - world premiere, Once on This Island - Papermill), Mary Testa (currently on Broadway in Oklahoma! - Tony, Drama Desk nominations), Jo Lampert (Joan of Arc: Into the Fire - Lortel Award nomination), Patrick Page (currently on Broadway starring in Hadestown - Tony, Lortel Award nominations; Coriolanus - Helen Hayes Award); and Amy Spanger (Broadway: Matilda, Chicago, Elf, Rock of Ages, The Wedding Singer - Drama Desk nomination, Urinetown, Kiss Me Kate, Sunset Boulevard; Off-Bway: Tick Tick Boom, Rent). The performance will also include cameo appearances by Drama Desk Award nominee Bryan Batt (Forbidden Broadway), Emily Bergl ("Shameless"), Drama Desk Award winner Arnie Burton, Tony Award nominee Veanne Cox, Paige Davis (Chicago), Keith Hamilton Cobb (American Moor), Ann Harada (Avenue Q), Tony Award nominee Chad Kimball (Memphis, Come From Away), two-time Tony Award nominee Crista Moore (Gypsy, Big), Theatre World Award winner Sarah Rice (Sweeney Todd), Tony Award nominee Derek Smith (The Green Bird), Emily Swallow, Marc Vietor, as well as Jeffrey Eugene Johnson, Ben Jones, Charlotte Maltby, and Salisha Thomas. Making special video appearances will be five-time Tony Award nominee Dana Ivey, celebrity astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson (affectionately known as the man who killed Pluto), and two-time Drama Desk Award winner Michael Urie.
Special guests expected to attend include architect Michael Arad, Heidi Armbruster, Derrick Baskin, Christian Conn, Michael Emerson, Christa Justus, Mark Linn-Baker, Richard Maltby Jr., Dakin Matthews, Roberta Maxwell, Davis McCallum, Ismenia Mendes, Maryann Plunkett, Laila Robins, Jay O. Sanders, Rocco Sisto, Stephen Spinella, Louis Tucci, Jose Zayas, and more.
Return to the Forbidden Planet will have music direction by Greg Pliska leading a five-piece band (Matt Deitchman on guitar, Jessie Nelson on drums, Pearl Rhein on bass, and Jenny Horn on sax); Return to the Forbidden Planet will feature choreography by Tracy Bersley, costume design by Heather Jackson, projection design by Joshua Thorson, sound design by Patrick LaChance, and lighting design by Paul Hudson. Casting by Stuart Howard. Bob McCormick serves as Project Consultant, Mary Ehlinger as script editor & music consultant. Chris Zaccardi is the stage manager and Sean Patrick, production manager. The event is made possible in part by The Marta Heflin Foundation.
Return to Forbidden Planet opened at the Cambridge Theatre in London's West End on September 11, 1989. It won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical for 1989/'90, beating out The Baker's Wife, Buddy, and Miss Saigon. When the show opened in New York in 1991 at the Variety Arts Theater, Theatre Week opined, "Return to the Forbidden Planet is a desecration, recreation, or consecration, depending on whom you ask." It hasn't been seen in a major revival in New York since it closed in 1992 after playing 245 performances.
"Out of this world! Prepare to blast off with this musical space odyssey of Shakespearean proportions. With an interstellar cast of musical/classical theater superstars singing some of the catchiest songs ever recorded and having the time of their lives in a script full of hilarity and fun, this promises to be a night to remember, and a fabulous way to kick off our exciting 2019-'20 season," said Mr. Berger. "Not too low-brow for Shakespeare scholars, and not too high-brow for Trekkies or '50s Sci-fi aficionados, Return to the Forbidden Planet is sure to delight."