Yes, it’s Shakespeare. But it’s definitely not your stuffy, stodgy, highbrow Bard.
Not with a fanciful set resembling a mash-up of circus carousel, pirate ship and Victorian music hall. And definitely not with a two-headed, two-bodied, single-minded monster named Caliban cartwheeling around a stage inside a 500-seat tent in The Smith Center’s Symphony Park.
That’s where the world premiere of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” — co-conceived and directed by Las Vegas’ own Teller (of Penn and Teller fame) and Aaron Posner — will debut in previews April 1-4, followed by an April 5 opening and regular performances April 6-27.
A sneak preview Wednesday offered a first look at some production elements, including the two-man Caliban performed by Zachary Eisenstat and Manelich Minniefee.
The duo performed elastic, gymnastic moves choreographed by Matt Kemp of the shape-shifting modern dance troupe Pilobolus — all while delivering such poetical passages as “As wicked dew as e’er my mother brushed with raven’s feather from unwholesome fen drop on you both!”
As Teller joked after Eisenstat and Minniefee finished tumbling about, “We thought reciting Shakespeare’s lines was too easy,” noting that his and Posner’s initial concept for Caliban “started with four people,” but that seemed “sort of cumbersome and spidery.”
Music by Tom Waits and magic by (who else?) Teller will augment Shakespeare’s tale of Prospero, a deposed duke turned island exile — and scholar turned wizard.
This “Tempest” is produced in association with American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., where the production will play following its Las Vegas run.
“We’re telling ‘The Tempest,’ ” Posner explained, but demonstrating how “music and magic can illuminate the story. It opens it up in new ways.”
Preview tickets for “The Tempest” are $25-$55; tickets for the regular run are $35-$65. (Tickets for the April 5 debut are $150, including a post-show reception.) For tickets, call 702-749-2000 or visit www.thesmithcenter.com.
Contact reporter Carol Cling at email@example.com or 702-383-0272.