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From Shakespeare TO NEW WORKS


Frank Langella and B.D. Wong in Roundabout's 1989 Production of The Tempest Photo by Martha Swope


Stephen Lang in Roundabout's 1992 Production of Hamlet Photo by Martha Swope


In our early decades, Roundabout produced seven works by William Shakespeare: Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello (starring Earle Hyman as Othello), The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, and a “musical” Merchant of Venice. Several were staged multiple times, including King Lear and an all- male production of Hamlet. Recently, the Bard has surfaced referentially in Bernhardt/Hamlet and Kiss Me, Kate. All told, there has been a lot of Shakespeare in our past.


The “musical” Merchant of Venice was staged in 1975— coincidentally the same year in which Scotland, PA is set. The production was presented in workshop form as part of a Directors’ Showcase. According to reviews at the time, Roundabout was providing a venue for new and emerging directors to work on experimental projects. This Musical Merchant of Venice married pop music with a strict Shakespearean script—a coupling that, according to reviews, lacked clarity of execution. Its lack of success wasn’t the point, however: more important was the fact that Roundabout recognized the need and provided a forum for workshopping new works.


The Company of Roundabout's 1975 Production of A Musical Merchant of Venice


Looking back, there have been jumps and starts in programming that is today codified in the company’s New Play Initiative (NPI)—the writers, composers, directors, and actors who emerge first through workshops and then in Black Box productions are provided with the experimental program known as Roundabout Underground through which they can bring new works to life. The Musical Merchant of Venice was an early precursor to this important initiative.


Adam Gwon, lyricist and composer of Scotland, PA, staged his first Roundabout show, Ordinary Days, as part of the Underground series. Now, and with collaborator Michael Mitnick, he has written an exciting new musical based on the film Scotland, PA. This musical version of Scotland, PA has been in workshop for nearly 5 years and is the latest testament to Roundabout’s dedication to nurturing new works.•


Show art for Roundabout's 2009 Production of Ordinary Days


Associate Artistic Director Jill Rafson and Composer Adam Gwon at the Opening Night Party for Ordinary Days


For more information on the Roundabout Archives, visit https://archive.roundabouttheatre.org or contact Tiffany Nixon, Roundabout Archivist, at archives@roundabouttheatre.org


22 ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANY


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