Duelling Hip-Hop Comedy of Errors Musicals PremiereDate: 7 May 2003
Two new hip-hop musical versions of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, about two sets of identical twins, premiere in London tonight (7 May 2003, both following previews from 24 April). The British offering, Da Boyz, opens at the fringe Theatre Royal Stratford East, while its American competitor, The Bomb-Itty of Errors, opens at the West End's New Ambassadors Theatre.
Da Boyz, which runs to 31 May 2003, is in fact a remake of Rodgers and Hart's 1938 musical comedy The Boys from Syracuse, one of the first-ever Shakespeare-inspired modern musicals (See Features, 28 Apr 2003), and marks the official end of the UK's year-long Richard Rodgers centenary celebrations. The new show has been adapted by DJ Excalibah, Dirty Diggers' MC Skolla and Ultz and features numerous British urban music stars.
Though Rodgers and Hart's classic numbers such as "Sing for Your Supper" and "Falling in Love with Love" will still be recognisable to fans of the original, the music for Da Boyz is placed firmly in east London 2003, through hip-hop, R&B, bashment and garage remixes. Directed by Ultz and with music mixed on stage by DJ Excalibah, it's performed by a 30-strong cast of up-and-coming rappers and street dancers, assisted by urban music stars like Kyza, Kat and Mystro with others including Rodney P, Ricochet Klashnekoff and Demolition Man due to make special guest appearances.
The Bomb-Itty of Errors was originally created in 1998 as a senior theatre project at New York University. It went on to become a box office success Off-Broadway at New York's 45 Bleeker Theatre and, in 2001, won the Grand Prize in the theatre category at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival, which led to a deal with MTV. Last summer, The Bomb-Itty of Errors received its UK premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it won the company The Stage award for Best Ensemble.
The West End production features the same US cast who performed at the Festival - "ranney", Chris Edwards, Joe Hernandez-Kolski and Charles Anthony Burks. They play 16 roles between them and are supported by DJ and composer Kevin Shand, creating the music live onstage (See News, 20 Dec 2002). It's booking at the New Ambassadors Theatre up to 12 July 2003.
- by Terri Paddock