Tag Archives: Kronborg – The Hamlet Rock Musical

Kronborg Hits the Homburg

Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical opens June 21 at Confederation Centre

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“To be or not to be” is the most famous question in all of drama. And it is around this central question that the history of Kronborg–The Hamlet Rock Musical hangs upon.

And like Hamlet returning to Denmark, this celebrated Canadian musical is returning to The Charlottetown Festival, 45 years since it was first produced here. Sponsored by SYSCO Food Services the production runs June 28 to July 20—just 15 nights—in the Homburg Theatre at Confederation Centre of the Arts. Preview performances are slated for June 21 and June 27.

Cliff Jones, the musical’s creator, is excited to see the show take on a new life. “This talented company and this theatre will be incredible for Kronborg,” he muses, “and I’ve also gotten the chance to tweak little things that have nagged me for years.”

The electrifying rock production has been revived by Director Mary Francis Moore and Music Director Craig Fair, as well as the talented Festival cast, crew, and orchestra. But it was a winding road back to Charlottetown and the world-renowned Festival.

First commissioned as a CBC radio play in 1973, the original title was Kronborg: 1582, named for the Danish castle and year Shakespeare’s original revenge tragedy takes place.Jones’ inspiration came from when he first heard the Jesus Christ  Superstar soundtrack, which married anthemic rock music with rich storytelling. It is a curious symmetry that the Kronborg remount follows last summer’s Superstar as the next “big Festival show” here on the Centre mainstage. Both productions also star Island son, Aaron Hastelow.

After the original radio production in 1973, the play moved to the stage at Confederation Centre. Its first staging at the Festival in 1974 was an absolute hit leading to an eastern Canadian tour with Brent Carver as Hamlet and Beverly D’Angelo as Ophelia. In the following years Jones and other directors would tackle this production through diverse variations. These included a month-long Broadway engagement as Rockabye Hamlet (1976), and a 14-month run in L.A. in the early ‘80s as Something’s Rockin in Denmark.

Then, the play was put to rest.

It wasn’t until years later when Jones crossed paths with Adam Brazier—the Centre’s artistic director—that Kronborg was given a new lease on life and was turned into a concert performance at the Historic St. Mary’s Church in Indian River, P.E.I. in 2017. Jones came back to Charlottetown while recovering from a serious health scare with Legionnaire’s disease. “The disease had quickly destroyed me,” he recalls, “I was delirious, could hardly recognize my daughters, was lethargic, and battling depression.”

When the Kronborg writer came in for rehearsals it gave him a new purpose. “I saw what they were doing with this incredible company and with Craig Fair’s new arrangements and musical direction. It made my life worth living again; it renewed me.”

Jones recalls the sold-out Indian River concert—with full company and an orchestra—as thrilling. Indeed, a Buzz review described the rock opera as “spectacular and electrifying…Aaron Hastelow shone brightly as Hamlet.”

For Jones, he pondered, “Can it get any better than this?” It turns out it certainly can. The new show is set to run for 15 nights this summer on the main stage.

When asked what endures about Kronborg all these years later, the writer offers “It’s always carried a special combination of being a fun, entertaining experience but also being faithful to Shakespeare’s story—to thine own self be true.”

New life for the writer and his storied musical awaits at this year’s Festival.

The full artistic team for Kronborg: The Hamlet Rock Musical is listed online. Confederation Centre wishes to acknowledge the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support. The Charlottetown Festival is sponsored by CIBC.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse
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Lifting the Curtain

A fiery redhead. A grieving son. A gregarious family on the Rock. The musical pull of the Atlantic. A young woman’s search for family. Sit a spell. Have we got a story for you! Confederation Centre has announced the playbill for The Charlottetown Festival–the largest musical theatre festival in Atlantic Canada.

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Sponsored by CIBC, the Festival will commence June 28 with the much anticipated return of Kronborg–The Hamlet Rock Musical. This original Canadian work has become a cult favourite for Islanders who recall the 1975 production starring Brent Carver and Beverly D’Angelo. This remains the only production in the history of the Festival to be produced on Broadway.

Based on the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet, originally written by Cliff Jones, this musical rocked the rafters in 2017, selling out a concert presentation at the Historic St. Mary’s Church in Indian River and later packing the Homburg Theatre. Next summer’s fully realized production will weave the story of a prince who plots revenge on his uncle for taking his beloved father’s life.

Festival favourite and Island son Aaron Hastelow, coming off rave reviews as the lead in this season’s Jesus Christ Superstar, will return to star as Hamlet next year. Additional major casting information will be revealed later this fall, when the Centre offers a ‘Buy-1-Get-1’ sale for a limited time only, from November 17 to December 1. The Festival will also announce production information on the 2019 Confederation Centre Young Company.

The Festival’s crown jewel Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™ will return for its 55th consecutive summer, a testament to the global appeal of a classic inspired by a classic. This enduring story of an orphan girl who came from away and changed the Island forever will run June 29 to September 28.

A mother, a daughter, three possible dads, and a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget! Back to the Centre by popular demand, it’s Mamma Mia! This sunny ABBA-driven tale follows a daughter’s quest to find her father by inviting three men from her mother’s past to her wedding. Presented as a co-production with the Grand Theatre in London, Mamma Mia! will play on P.E.I. from August 9 to September 28.

Over at The Mack, the Festival is thrilled to welcome Tara MacLean’s Maritime love-letter, Atlantic Blue. This celebration of East Coast songwriters previously played at The Guild, and will show from August 2 to September 28. MacLean explores the place and people behind classic songs like ‘Sonny’s Dream’, ‘Put Your Hand in the Hand’, ‘Fare Thee Well Love’, and more. The Island songwriter celebrates those who found a way to create beauty from the challenging experiences in their own lives. With the addition of members of the Festival and its orchestra, this new production will make every Atlantic Canadian proud.

From July 20 through September 28, Spinning Yarns will shine a light on Newfoundland and Labrador in the early ‘80s: a world of raucous adventures, death defying escapades, and dubious childcare! This hilarious evening of story and song stars festival favourite, Stephen Guy-McGrath (Evangeline, Million Dollar Quartet). Through it all shines a fierce love of family and a boundless longing for home.

The Centre wishes to acknowledge the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support. Media sponsors are The Guardian, Hot 105.5, Ocean 100, and CTV.