The Scottish king belts out the Bard in this musical adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy for The Theatre Project.
Off-Broadway's latest take on Shakespeare's bloody tragedy Macbeth comes with a musical score. The Theatre Project (TP&co) frequently incorporates catchy tunes, composed by Eric Fletcher, into its productions at The Players Theatre. Here, the troupe has taken on one of the Bard's tragedies and donned it in 1920s speakeasy dress as Fletcher joins the musical Weird Sister trio (completed by the talented Brianna Hurley and Maggie McGuire), who together add to the show a sassy, sexy magic.
This production sets the story of the would-be king during Prohibition, complete with period costumes (designed by Hurley) and Art Deco-inspired scenery. Director Christian Amato plays fast and loose with the text, cutting lines copiously and setting passages to music. He also inserts musicalized Shakespeare sonnets and a "Special Guest" interlude — a burlesque dancer performing a soft-core striptease.
Despite the irreverent, nonliteralist take on the play, you'll hear a fair amount of the original text spoken by the talented cast of 11. Tyler Nye plays the ambitious Macbeth lusting after Scotland's kingship as he's goaded on by his murderous wife, played so amusingly by Dominic Sellers that you'll wish the role of Lady Macbeth was always done in drag.
Achieving a balance between the production's humor and the play's theme of murderous ambition is a tough job. The traditionally acted nonmusical scenes sometimes clash with the boisterous tunes, making you wish Amato had made even more cuts to the original and gone for full-on camp.
There's more booze guzzled than blood spilled here, and more laughs than Shakespeare intended. Purists may balk at that sort of thing, but there's no arguing that, even with its hit-and-miss humor, this production gives the play a fresh, colorful energy. It ain't your grandfather's Shakespeare, but he'd probably wish it had been.