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“One of the best Shakespeares I’ve ever seen.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Return to the Forbidden Planet


New Line Theatre presents a lot of intriguing work, but now and then it gets everything so right that you're ready to see the show again before you're out of the theater. Hair was like that; Bat Boy, too. And so is its new production, Return to the Forbidden Planet a smart, giddy, musically ingenious spoof written by Bob Carlton and directed by Scott Miller.

– Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


“Bob Carlton's whimsical take on The Tempest as refracted through a 1950s sci-fi prism features a galaxy's worth of fantastic rock & roll songs, punning wordplays on snippets of Shakespearean monologues and intentionally ‘Pigs in Space’ costuming. But this is no parlor trick of a musical; there's a rich vein of Shakespeare's favorite ingredient — the wondrous depths of the human heart — that elevates the show from cunning stunt to artful meditation on the destructive nature of power and the redemptive power of love.”

– Paul Friswold, The Riverfront Times

Read all the amazing reviews!

graphic design by Matt ReedyEver feel like our world is getting more dangerous every day? Like technology is advancing faster than our ability to control it? If so, you're not alone...

Come back to the future with us! The future of the 1950s, that is... when the atomic bomb had everyone scared of Mad Scientists and the ever lurking dangers of Science Run Amok. Fear was one of the main staples of 1950s sci-fi -- fear of science, fear of sex, fear of the Russians, fear of The Bomb, fear of ourselves! (The more things change, the more they stay the same...) It was a time when the most innocent lab experiments could result in giant monster bugs and mutated humans... or so the movies told us...

And the only thing Americans feared more than Russia and the atom was rock and roll...!

New Line Theatre's 18th season continues April 30-May 23, 2009, with the St. Louis premiere of the outrageous rock and roll musical RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET, Bob Carlton's hilarious take on the classic 1956 sci-fi film Forbidden Planet and (sort of) on Shakespeare's The Tempest. You'll laugh! You'll cry! You'll get caught in the airlock with the Id Monster!

Like Urinetown and Bat Boy, this is one of the silliest shows about important things we’ve yet encountered, and we know you’ll have a blast sharing it with us. A crazy cocktail of Rocky Horror and Star Trek, this smart, subversive piece of rock theatre taps into Americans' perpetual fear of technology (and sex!), and it reminds us of that famous quote by Lord Acton: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Read director Scott Miller's background and analysis essay about the show.

The cast of New Line Theatre's "Return to the Forbidden Planet," 2009. Photo credit: Jill RitterThis quirky, rowdy musical throws together 1950s science fiction, fake Shakespeare (we call it "Fakespeare"), and the muscle and untamed sexuality of early rock and roll. The show's score includes “Wipe Out” (1963), “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” (1966), “Great Balls of Fire” (1957), “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (1964), “Good Vibrations” (1966), “The Shoop Shoop Song” (1963), “I’m Gonna Change the World” (1965), “A Teenager in Love” (1960), “Young Girl” (1968), “She’s Not There” (1964), “Shakin’ All Over” (1960), “Gloria” (1964), “Who’s Sorry Now” (1958), “Tell Him” (1962), “Robot Man” (1959), “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” (1954), “Go Now” (1964), “Only the Lonely” (1960), “Mister Spaceman” (1967), and “The Monster Mash” (1962).

Believe it or not, this bizarre show actually won the 1990 Olivier Award (the British Tony Award) for Best Musical, beating out Miss Saigon. Don't ask us how it works. It just does.

The show takes the audience on a routine survey flight under the command of Captain Tempest and his crew, as their spaceship is drawn mysteriously to the planet D'Illyria where rogue  scientist Doctor Prospero and his lovely daughter Miranda are marooned, along with Prospero's trusty robot, Ariel. And the Id Monster. Rock and roll ensues.

The New Line cast includes Michael Amoroso (Capt. Tempest), Zachary Allen Farmer (Dr. Prospero), Nikki Glenn (Science Officer), Tara Lawton (Miranda), Ted Drury (Cookie), Scott Tripp (Ariel), Philip Leveling (Bosun), Kimi Short (Navigation Officer), Mike Dowdy (Ship's Engineer), and Tawaine Noah (Weapons Officer). The show is directed by Scott Miller, with choreography by Robin Michelle Berger, sets by David Carr and Jeffery Brekel, costumes by Betsy Krausnick, lighting by Hans Fredrickson, and sound by Robert Healey.

Check out New Line's Forbidden Planet Blogs -- Scott Miller's blog, Scott Tripp's blog




Want to explore more? We recommend:

The original 1989 London cast album of Return To The Forbidden Planet, the show's script, and the vocal selections

The official Return to the Forbidden Planet website and an unofficial Return to the Forbidden Planet website

Links to other RTTFP sites and discussion forums

Director Scott Miller's background and analysis essay about the show

The RTTFP Source Rock page, linking to the original versions of the classic rock hits that make up the RTTFP score

A New York Times article about the show before it opened off-Broadway

The original 1956 film Forbidden Planet, and a fun 1958 B-movie Fiend without a Face that steals its central plot device from Forbidden Planet

The book Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare: A Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Works of Shakespeare by the legendary science fiction novelist Isaac Asimov

A decent but conventional production of Shakespeare's The Tempest (the only version available), and the outstanding documentary Shakespeare Behind Bars, about a prison program that produces The Tempest

Read the entire script for Shakespeare's The Tempest online, or check out Wikipedia's article about The Tempest and the Shakespeare Resource Center's page on The Tempest with some terrific research links

The Best of Shakespeare on DVD:

Al Pacino's Looking for Richard

Kevin Kline's Hamlet

Kenneth Branaugh's Henry V

Ian McKellen's Richard III

In Search of Shakespeare

An interesting scientific essay, Geological Time Termination of a Sci-Fi Biosphere: An Alternative View of Forbidden Planet

Simone Caroti's article, "Science Fiction, Forbidden Planet and Shakespeare's Tempest"

A British RTTFP production show site and a good webpage about RTTFP from The Guide To Musical Theatre site

Vintage sci-fi television at AOL Video, and Hacking Hollywood: Star Trek Tech

The Heart Robot project