Red Bull Theater’s one-night-only benefit concert of Return to the Forbidden Planet, the 1989 jukebox musical that re-imagined The Tempest as a sci-fi space adventure, was presented at Symphony Space October 21.
Using songs from the 1950s and ’60s, including “Great Balls of Fire,” “Shake Rattle and Roll,” “The Monster Mash,” and “Good Vibrations,” Return to the Forbidden Planet won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical of the 1989–1990 season, beating out Miss Saigon. A New York production premiered at the Variety Arts Theater Off-Broadway in 1991.
The concert starred Steven Boyer (Hand to God), Kim Exum (The Book of Mormon), Mary Testa (Oklahoma!), Jo Lampert (Joan of Arc: Into the Fire), and Patrick Page (Hadestown), Robert Cuccioli (Jekyll & Hyde), Kevin R. Free (Dave), and Amy Spanger (Matilda), with cameo appearances by Bryan Batt, Emily Bergl, Arnie Burton, Veanne Cox, Paige Davis, Keith Hamilton Cobb, Ann Harada, Chad Kimball, Crista Moore, Sarah Rice, Derek Smith, Emily Swallow, Marc Vietor, Jeffrey Eugene Johnson, Ben Jones, Charlotte Maltby, and Salisha Thomas.
Flip through photos of the concert below:
An Exclusive Look Inside the Return to the Forbidden Planet Benefit Concert
The Red Bull Theater benefit concert marks the first time Return to the Forbidden Planet has been mounted in New York since the original production closed in 1992. Gabriel Barre, an original cast member in the Off-Broadway run, directed the concert staging.
Return to Forbidden Planet featured Greg Pliska leading a five-piece band (Matt Deitchman on guitar, Jessie Nelson on drums, Pearl Rhein on bass, and Jenny Horn on sax) with choreography by Tracy Bersley, costume design by Heather Jackson, projection design by Joshua Thorson, sound design by Patrick LaChance, and lighting design by Paul Hudson. Casting is by Stuart Howard.
Bob McCormick served as project consultant and Mary Ehlinger as script editor and music consultant. Chris Zaccardi was the stage manager, and Sean Patrick the production manager.