Updated: Feb 18, 2020
"Hamlet the Rock Musical" opened last night at the El Portal Theatre in NoHo, and I was pleasantly surprised that this production was original and extremely entertaining. I was thinking: Hamlet again!!!! Not another version of "To Be or Not to Be," and "Alas Poor Yorick!" NO NO NO!!!!
Well, as it turns out neither phrase was uttered during the entire two hours. And yet the story stayed on track from beginning to end with a few necessary edits to keep it a perfect length for the genre. Cliff Jones, writer and composer, is able to tell the story without making it mundane and conventional, and, instead, modifying one of the most famous tales of all times, into an unexpected and electrifying production.
The music is a blend of rock, ballad, gospel, and yes, even a bit of hip hop. It keeps the show moving without a hitch, and the cast is extraordinary in both their acting and vocal chops! Each member of the cast is as talented as the next. They're all standouts!
There's humor in this "Hamlet" as there was in the original, and thanks to the actors' enunciation and the acoustics of the El Portal, you can understand nearly every clever word spoken or sung. A very inventive reworking of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and the Players who "catch the conscience of the king."
Kudos to music director Doug Oberhamer and his 10-piece orchestra! And of course cheers to director Bill Castellino, choreographer Janet Roston, and Matt Franta and Brandon Pugmire who didn't fail to deliver the infamous super duper duel at the finale.