Sometimes you just know when you’ve got a good thing. Such is the case with Bomb-itty of Errors, and not just because the hip-hop adaptation of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors gets a second chance on a Vancouver stage.
[pullquote] “The Arts Club likes to give a longer life to productions that we think should be seen by a wider audience and this production from Twenty Something Theatre sparked my interest in particular as the young performers would speak to their demographic.” – Bill Millerd, Artistic Managing Director for the Arts Club Theatre Company[/pullquote]“We never had any doubts about the show,” says co-creator Erik Weiner with a laugh during a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “Call it false bravado, but we were so young and thought we could do nothing wrong.”
It also helped that the show was so well received as the senior project for Weiner and his fellow collaborators at the Experimental Theatre Wing at New York University. With the University preaching the idea of self-scripting, it was co-creator GQ (aka Gregory Qaiyum) who thought hip-hop would make a great platform.
“GQ approached me, Jordan [Allen-Dutton] and Jason [Catalano] because he knew we all loved hip-hop,” says Weiner. “We originally talked about doing something original, but I stumbled across Comedy of Errors and thought it would work because it had four main characters, and there were four of us.”
Billed as an “ad-rap-tation” of Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identities, Bomb-itty of Errors retains much of the Bard’s original text, but mixes it together with original songs and a live DJ on the set. Originally using existing hip-hop songs, the show also started out with a number of other Shakespeare’s characters, including Othello and Falstaff, popping in and out of the musical. It wasn’t until after its initial positive reception after a week of performances that the foursome began to mold it into the show it is today.
Catriona Leger, who will once again direct the local production, also saw its potential during the shows first run in Vancouver during the Twenty Something Theatre production two years ago.
“When we did it in 2012 we hoped we could give it a second life,” Murphy said from her home in Ottawa as she got ready to fly back to Vancouver to begin rehearsals. “We loved working on the show originally and to have the opportunity to do it again is wonderful.”
Returning is the original 2012 cast that director Leger calls “the dream team for this show”. Playing the pairs of identical twins are Brian Cochrane, David Kaye, Niko Koupantsis, Jameson Matthew Parker and joining them on stage again is DJ Oker Chen, to make up the same quintet who walked away with the Jessie Award for Significant Artistic Achievement (Small Theatre) that same year. Also returning is costume designer Vanessa Imeson who took the Jessie Award for Outstanding Costume Design (Small Theatre) for her costume mash-up that takes inspiration from Shakespeare, Run DMC, Nicki Minaj and LMFAO.
And while the dream of this second chance in Vancouver is coming true, for Weiner a similar dream is playing out as the show is produced around the world, the same show that Weiner remains most proud of, despite a career that now includes three Emmy Award nominations and a Screen Actors Guild award.
“It’s because it has a life beyond us, and that fills me with a lot of satisfaction,” explains Weiner.
The Bomb-itty of Errors plays the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Revue Stage on Granville Island from April 10 – May 10, 2014. Visit http://artsclub.com for tickets and information.