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RSC to live-stream A Midsummer Night's Dream musical concert with Young Vic and Theatre for a New Audience

The concert is based on 1939 musical Swingin' the Dream

The RST in Stratford-upon-Avon
(© RSC, photo by David Tett)

The RSC has revealed digital plans for the start of the new year.

The venue will live-stream a concert revival project inspired by 1939 musical Swingin' the Dream, based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Gilbert Seldes and Erik Charell's piece, which has lyrics by Eddie de Lange and music by Jimmy Van Heusen with original choreography by Agnes Demille and set design by a little-known creative Walt Disney, transposes the Bard's work to New Orleans in the late 19th century, with popular jazz tunes alongside original music.

The concert will show a work-in-progress project between the RSC, the Young Vic and New York's Theatre for a New Audience, with the event featuring musicians Peter Edwards (MD/arranger/piano), Neil Charles (bass), Chris Storr (trumpet) and Zara McFarlane (vocals). The cast includes Alfred Clay, Andrew French, Kemi-Bo Jacobs, Cornell S John, Georgia Landers, Mogali Masuku, Baker Mukasa and Anne Odeke.

Further details of the new musical co-production, inspired by Swingin' the Dream, will be announced in due course.

The concert performance will be streamed live from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Saturday 9 January 2021 at 7pm.

Gregory Doran, RSC artistic director said: "The story of Swingin' the Dream brings together so many different elements: Shakespeare, Jazz and some extraordinary talent. But it also touches on the deeply challenging issues of representation, of exploitation, of segregation and cultural ownership.

"The way these issues have gained in prominence, and the urgent need to tell stories which illuminate and articulate the historical and contemporary Black experience, makes the resonances of this story even more powerful."

Other projects include Young Bloods, which sees director Tinuke Craig work with the RSC's acting company to read extracts from Shakespeare selected by young people.

It will be streamed live from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Saturday 16 January 2021 at 7pm.

From Twelfth Night itself (6 January), Michael Morpurgo will read from his new Tales from Shakespeare book – the weekly online series will then run for five weeks.

The pieces are intended to be watched by young people – making Shakespeare more accessible for a new generation. Schools will also be able to have the pieces streamed live into classrooms.

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