A maquette by Brian Smith for one of the sets of this summer’s forthcoming rock opera, Kronborg—the Hamlet Rock Musical.

Kronborg—the Hamlet Rock Musical

Opening June 21

Charlottetown Festival

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“To be or not to be” is the most famous question in all of drama. And it is this question that Kronborg—the Hamlet Rock Musical, like the Shakespearean play, hangs upon. This Canadian musical is returning to the Charlottetown Festival forty-five years after it was last produced here.

“This talented company and this theatre will be incredible for Kronborg,” says Cliff Jones, the musical’s creator, “and I’ve also gotten the chance to tweak little things that have nagged me for years.”

The rock production has been revived by director Mary Francis Moore, as well as the Festival cast. This includes musical stars Aaron Hastelow as Hamlet; Cam MacDuffee as his nemesis, Claudius; and Kim Truong as Ophelia.

First commissioned as a CBC radio play in 1973, the show’s original title was Kronborg: 1582, named for the Danish castle and year Shakespeare’s original revenge tragedy takes place.

After the radio production in 1973, the play moved to the big stage at Confederation Centre. Its first staging at the Charlottetown Festival in 1974 was a hit. It led to an eastern Canadian tour with Brent Carver as Hamlet and Beverly D’Angelo as Ophelia.

In the following years Jones and other directors would take on this production in different variations. This included a month-long Broadway engagement as Rock-a-bye Hamlet (1976), and a 14-month run in the early ‘80s in L.A. as Something’s Rockin in Denmark.

It wasn’t until years later when Cliff Jones crossed paths with Adam Brazier, Confederation Centre’s Artistic Director, that Kronborg was given a new lease on life and was turned into a concert performance at Indian River in 2017.

When the Kronborg writer came back to Charlottetown for rehearsals in 2017, it gave him a new purpose. “I saw what they were doing with this incredible company and with Craig Fair’s new arrangements and musical direction. It made my life worth living again; it renewed me.”

The new show is set to open at the Homburg Theatre in Charlottetown on June 21.