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Return to the Forbidden Planet at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Published by: Cameron Lowe on 10th Feb 2015 | View all blogs by Cameron Lowe

Glasgow’s King’s Theatre celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Return to the Forbidden Planet in style last night as a stellar cast blasted the audience into orbit!

Return to the Forbidden Planet is a musical revival based on a 1956 B-movie which, in turn, was based on a play written in the 17th century.  Sorry?  I’m not selling it?  OK, I’ll reveal that the sci-fi B-movie in question was the worldwide cult classic “Forbidden Planet” (the movie which introduced us to Robby the Robot) and the play upon which it was based was “The Tempest” written by the most famous bard of them all, William Shakespeare.  I will also add that the musical score is based on the best music from the late 50s and early 60s including hits like Good Vibrations, Gloria, Great Balls of Fire, Johnny B Goode and many, many more!

Captain Tempest (Sean Needham) leads the crew of the Starship Albatross on a routine survey mission when their ship is mysteriously drawn to the surface of Planet D’Illyria where we are introduced to scientist castaway Dr. Prospero (Johnathan Markwood) and his eerily pretty daughter, Miranda (Sarah Scowen).  Miranda falls instantly head over heels for Captain Tempest; blatantly ignoring the affections of young Cookie (Mark Newnham).  Meanwhile we discover that Prospero has some significant “previous” with the ship’s Science Officer (Christine Holman).  With all these hormones flying around, something was bound to blow … and that “something” comes in the form of a deadly tentacled “green eyed” monster which attacks the ship just in time for an interval cliffhanger (neatly delivered by Narrator, Brian May, via video feed).

So, with the scene set on the sturdy bridge of the Albatross and characters poised for love, lust and jealousy, surely all that is required for a successful musical is to add a hilarious script, a first class rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack and a few dance moves?  Yes, yes and yes!  All of these are delivered in spades … but that is only HALF of the joy of this musical.  Into the mix comes some crazily complex handheld radio mic-ography, hilariously intelligent dialog which lampoons 17th Century prose, Sci-fi movies and everything in between, brilliantly delivered B-movie effects and a joyous sense of togetherness from the cast that tells the audience that every performance is special and fun! Oh, did I neglect to mention that all of the music is played live onstage by the cast themselves?  Yes indeed, if this production wasn’t impressive enough, each of the characters plays an average of FOUR instruments each!

Onstage we find that individual performances come together beautifully to form a great ensemble show.  Sean Needham plays the stoic Captain like an American Richard Hannay.  Jonathan Markwood is a great protagonist as Prospero, strutting the stage in Dr Who-like tartan trews. Christine Holeman and Sarah Scowen provide the sax appeal (in more ways than one) and vocals from Ms Scowen, in particular, were stratospheric.  Mark Newnham gave the audience a great comic character and a first class guitar solo while Joseph Mann (as robot, Ariel) gave a lovely physical comedy performance.

With the music covering genres from rock ‘n’ roll to country via a beautifully blended a cappella number, there is something here for everyone.  Book your tickets quickly before they vanish into a black hole!


Mon 9 – Sat 14 February

Mon - Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets: £12.90 - £48.40

Box Office: 0870 060 6648 (bkg fee)  (bkg fee)




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