Who would have thought that the combination of Shakespeare with rock ’n’ roll music would be such a genius idea? I’m sure the Bard would approve! Return to the Forbidden Planet by playwright Bob Carlton is a jukebox musical based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Set on a spaceship, it is full of cheesy dialogue, even cheesier dancing and a rock ’n’ roll score to die for. This ambitious production would be a challenge for a mature cast, let alone a cast with an age range from 8 to 17. Yet I was pleasantly surprised by RAODS youth members, who pull out all the stops. It is a performance full of colour, creativity and charisma. Excellent vocals are delivered by Diana Thomas (Miranda) and Lily Holmes (Gloria) as the leading ladies; they complement each other well and certainly are stars of the future. Congratulations, too, to Isabelle Mitchell (Captain Tempest), who gave a brave performance after standing in for the role with only three days’ notice! Along with the leading characters comes a terrific supporting ensemble – the driving force of this production and the most energetic chorus I have seen in a while. Credit must go to director William Ross-Jones for encouraging such a young cast and for taking the leap with a production of this scale.
Naturally, there were opening night sound glitches which sadly made it difficult to follow the dialogue and to hear the vocals clearly, but I have no doubt that this will iron out as the week continues. If the storyline doesn’t entice you, the music certainly will. Return to the Forbidden Planet is showing until 26 August, at 7.30 each evening.