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Shakespeare’s Hamlet meets with rock and roll soundtrack at Queen’s Theatre

PUBLISHED: 15:00 01 August 2015

Tom Sowinski, Cameron Jones and Lucy Wells, who are starring in Queen's Theatre's production Roll over Beethoven. Picture: Mark Sepple

Tom Sowinski, Cameron Jones and Lucy Wells, who are starring in Queen's Theatre's production Roll over Beethoven. Picture: Mark Sepple

Mark Sepple

Put on your blue suede shoes and get ready for a whole lot of shaking at Queens’s Theatre.

Cameron Jones, Lucy Wells and Tom Sowinski, who are starring in Queen's Theatre's production Roll over Beethoven. Picture: Mark SeppleCameron Jones, Lucy Wells and Tom Sowinski, who are starring in Queen's Theatre's production Roll over Beethoven. Picture: Mark Sepple

The venue’s explosive new musical Roll over Beethoven is opening next month and promises to be a rock and roll extravaganza.

Based loosely on Hamlet and set in the 1950s, the play has been specially devised for Queens’s Theatre, in Billet Lane, Hornchurch, by West End director and writer Bob Easton.

With over 20 years worth of experience, he has adapted Shakespeare’s much celebrated tale and fused it with humour and original rock and roll melodies, which will be played live on stage.

Star of the show Cameron Jones, 23, said: “The music is amazing, the hard-hitting songs keep loyal to the decade.

Lucy Wells, Cameron Jones and Tom Sowinski, who are starring in Queen's Theatre's production Roll over Beethoven. Picture: Mark SeppleLucy Wells, Cameron Jones and Tom Sowinski, who are starring in Queen's Theatre's production Roll over Beethoven. Picture: Mark Sepple

“It’s not just a play, it’s a rock and roll show with a great story woven in between.”

The show is set in England in 1956 and captures the dreary post-war vibe.

The story follows the fortunes of a young national serviceman called Johnny Hamlet, played by Cameron, who returns home for his father’s funeral.

He discovers his mother Gertie has been sleeping with his uncle Claud and if that’s not enough of a shock, he is then haunted by his father’s ghost.

Cameron Jones and Lucy Wells, who are starring in Queen's Theatre's production Roll over Beethoven. Picture: Mark SeppleCameron Jones and Lucy Wells, who are starring in Queen's Theatre's production Roll over Beethoven. Picture: Mark Sepple

His father claims to have been murdered and urges Johnny to avenge his death.

But with the invention of the jukebox, which is injecting new sounds and life into Southend, Soho and Hornchurch, will Johnny follow his father’s quest or get lost in the music?

Preparing for the show has been hard work for the actors, but also rewarding, with them listening to Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly to get into the 1950s mindset, which has often resulted in impromptu jamming sessions.

Cameron, who has been nominated for an Off West End Theatre Award, said: “I get into character by reading interviews with musicians and listening to music from that era.

“I get the rock and roll side down and then the Shakespeare will follow – that’s the plan anyway.”

The theatre hopes the innovative play will have audiences laughing, singing and dancing down the aisles.

Cameron credits the theatre’s band, made up of Gregory Clarke, Adam Langstaff and Al Twist, with adding energy to the production.

“The original compositions are spectacular”, he said.

“All the scores are authentically interpreted and you can really feel the decade come alive in the music.”

The costumes also add energy and vibrancy to the mise en scène – their styling and attention to detail ensures a continuity of realism.

“What am I wearing?” exclaimed Cameron, after being asked to describe his outfit.

“That’s very forward of you”, he joked. “But I can reveal I am currently wearing a very tight, white T-shirt.

“I have got jeans and converses on too.”

Completing the look, the actor will slick back his hair with gel and put a packet of cigarettes in his T-shirt pocket.

Cameron, who was involved with school plays and acting groups from a young age, didn’t always want to be an actor.

For a while he played in bands, but he missed acting too much and decided to study drama at university.

His two passions have been united for this role and Cameron has been able to explore his musicality.

“There is a hell of a lot of music, but enough storyline too – it’s a good mixture of both.”

However, it is not all shaking and rolling and Cameron explains that you have to take a serious approach when working with classical plays.

“If you base your show on Shakespeare, then you can’t do it half-heartedly.

“You have got to be dedicated to put on a great adaptation.”

The world premiere of Roll over Beethoven takes place on August 21 and the show runs until September 9.

Tickets are priced between £12.50 and £27. For more information, call 01708 443333 or visit queens-theatre.co.uk.

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