King Richard may have been finally laid to rest but England’s last Plantagenet king is set to be brought vividly back to life later this year with the world premiere of a major new Swedish rock opera, RichardRocks.
Featuring cutting edge lighting, sound design, video and computer animation, RichardRocks will open for a five-week season from October 3 in the 770-seat Great Hall of The People’s Palace, a superb Art Deco theatre, in the East End.
RichardRocks, with 35 original songs and a cast of 28, has been inspired by both Shakespeare’s Richard III and by Al Pacino’s 1996 film, Looking for Richard.
It has music by Peter Robsahm, book and lyrics by Maria Robsahm, and is directed by Staffan Aspegren.
Swedish musical theatre star Fred Johanson will play Richard III. The rest of the roles will be cast in London.
“Don’t expect this Richard to be a hunchback with a bad haircut,” warns writer Maria Robsahm.
“Our Richard is a manipulative Machiavellian prince – a modern psychopath. Externally he is charismatic, handsome and witty. It’s inside – morally and psychologically – that he’s distorted.
“He knows how to get what he wants, whatever the cost. He sees the people around him either as a means to an end or as obstacles to be removed.”
Composer Peter Robsahm added: “The story of Richard III has often been reduced to a one-man-show portraying evil. And no doubt the question of evil is very interesting.
“But how does it feel to be a boy of 13 suddenly becoming king? And how does it feel to be a mother and realise your son has done horrible things?
“I was also interested in the people around Richard. RichardRocks is something out of the ordinary – both artistically and technologically.
“The show’s music combines heavy rock with beautiful harmonies of a more classical cut. The flavours in my music range from German metal band Rammstein, Deep Purple, the Kinks and Eminem to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Elgar.”
Fred Johanson has starred in several major musicals in both his native Sweden and London’s West End.
He played Peron in Evita, Javert in Les Miserables, Max in Sunset Boulevard, Old Deuteronomy in Cats, Reverend Shaw in Footloose and The Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
He also played Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar both on stage and in the British-made film version in 2000 that went on to win an Emmy Award.
As a soloist he has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, the Berwaldhallen Concert Hall and the Stockholm Concert Hall. He has also written songs for ABBA’s Annifrid Lyngstad.
RichardRocks runs at The People´s Palace, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 from October 3-November 7.