A new musical developed at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre uses hip hop and a comic-book aesthetic to tell a story inspired by Shakespeare.
Kansas City, MO – The play is set in a fictional Venice in the future, 20 years after a terrorist attack killed an entire generation. Writer and director Eric Rosen says when he and actor Matt Sax were commissioned by the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles to create a new musical, they wanted to base it on Othello, and the post-9/11 climate just before the 2008 presidential election.
Rosen was already working on the musical when he moved to Kansas City in 2007, to take over as artistic director of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. He brought the project here with him, and it became a co-production with the Center Theatre. (Venice premieres in Los Angeles in the fall.)
Rosen and Sax say they're using the vocabulary of a new generation (hip hop, R&B, and comic books) in the same way that Shakespeare used verse: to tell what's actually a classical tragedy about a society facing its own destruction, and placing all its hope in a charismatic leader.
Venice runs through May 9, 2010 at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre's Copaken Stage downtown.