Shakespeare meets The Beatles

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First Posted: 10/20/2014

If William Shakespeare had been around to watch The Beatles captivate America while performing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” for the first time, there may have been a twist to such theatrical classics as “Hamlet”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Romeo and Juliet”. Maybe instead of killing themselves, Romeo would have walked away and closed the show with a rendition of “Let It Be”.

Though Shakespeare was long gone but not forgotten by then, Robert Anderson of West Wyoming was around that infamous February night in 1964, and fifty years later, is combing the classic story of “The Tempest” with the classic sounds of The Beatles in “The Magic of Theatre: Another Tempest” on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 5 p.m. inside the Circle Centre for the Arts in Wilkes-Barre.

The staged reading of the Shakespeare classic is a project that Robert Anderson had in the back of his mind for several years.

“The project really began some years back when my wife Rose Marie Wright, a former Twyla Therp dancer, and I were living in New Bedford, Massachusetts. I became acquainted with the theory that the island of Cuttyhunk, off the coast of Massachusetts, near New Bedford, might have been the real inspiration for the island in ‘The Tempest’,” Anderson said.

From there, Anderson grew intrigued to rewrite “The Tempest”, rectifying it by giving Sycorax a presence so she could defend herself and her son —even adding music from the 1960s where appropriate.

“I had the idea locked away for a while, but this year, being the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth and 50 years since The Beatles discovered America, I thought it was time to haul it out of my files and give it another look. I’m glad I did, because when I started rehearsing and the project started coming together, something magical happened,” Anderson said.

With the help of the Wyoming Valley Art League, music director Jason Smeltzer (who will provide musical accompaniment on a theremin, the only instrument you can play without touching it) and a surprise local celebrity performer, Anderson will be donating all proceeds to Ruth’s Place in Wilkes-Barre.

“Ruth’s Place is the only homeless shelter for women in NEPA. When my wife and I moved here it was to take care of my wife’s late mother. She was a hoarder. When we were getting rid of her things, we donated a lot of it to Ruth’s Place. Going there and seeing the women that resided there, it really stayed with me. I wanted to find a way to give back to them again, and the proceeds from this show is the perfect way to do that,” Anderson said.

Attendees will be charged a suggested $12 donation, with seniors and students being asked for $10. Snacks and drinks will also be provided.

To go, or not to go, that is the question.