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Return to the Forbidden Planet

12th November 2014
Posted by Ros Connors

small planet imageThe excellent Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, hosts cut to the chase… its remarkably talented repertory company of actor musicians. This artistic jewel in Havering’s crown proudly presents the 25th anniversary run of Return to the Forbidden Planet, the Olivier Award-winning rock ‘n’ roll musical, from 6 – 15 November.

This fantastic show blasts off from Hornchurch before boldly going on a nationwide tour  until the summer. It stars cut to the chase…, the Queen’s permanent resident company of actor-musicians.

Dashing Captain Tempest and his flight officers take audiences on an exciting interplanetary adventure into hyperspace, where they meet mad scientist Prospero, his beautiful daughter Miranda and Ariel, the amazing rock ‘n’ roller-skating robot. Battling asteroid storms and faulty Photon Shields, does this motley crew ever get to the bottom of Prospero’s mysterious X Factor formula? And can they escape the Monster from the Id?

Premiering in 1989 in the West End before winning an Olivier the following year, Return to the Forbidden Planet sees its original creative and design team reunite for this special celebratory production – it is directed by creator and writer Bob Carlton, with design by Rodney Ford. This will aptly be Mr Carlton’s last production at the Queen’s, where he has been Artistic Director for 17 years. He leaves to pursue his freelance directing career.

This wonderfully feel-good family musical is a glorious mixture of influences. Inspired by the 1956 sci-fi B-movie Forbidden Planet – which is itself based on The Tempest.

Return to the Forbidden Planet also manages to add a dash of Freudian psychoanalysis to the mix! Bob Carlton’s creation, written in blank verse, is driven by a delightfully unlikely selection of rock ‘n’ roll hits from the ‘50s and ‘60s and a hilarious take on Shakespeare’s greatest quotes!

As the first major musical to popularise the actor-musician ensemble, the show includes cosmic classics from The Animals, The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison to name-drop a few. All played live on stage by cut to the chase, who swap a multitude of instruments between them in a dazzling musical relay!

Return to the Forbidden Planet ran for four years in the West End, was nominated for two Outer Critics’ Circle Awards in New York and has delighted hundreds of thousands across the world, amassing a loyal cult following.

The cast includes cut to the chase… members Georgina Field, Christine Holman, Hannah Howcroft,Callum Hughes, Greg Last, Joseph Mann, Jonathan Markwood, Brian May, Sean Needham, MarkNewnham, Sarah Scowen, Steve Simmonds and Fredrick “Frido” Ruth.

Musical supervision and arrangements are by Julian Littman, musical direction by Greg Last, lighting design by Mark Dymock, sound design by Ben Harrison, Fredrick “Frido” Ruth is assistant director and choreographer and visual effects design is by Daniel Crews.

The Hornchurch run looks a near sell-out: it’s great to see live theatre being so successful. Would that Basildon were as ambitious.

The Queen’s box office number (you may just be lucky) is: 01708 44 3333 or for internet communicators    Facebook: /QueensTheatreH   Twitter: @QueensTheatreH