OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: 'Othello: The Remix' turns up talent and volume at Navy Pier

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-03-18T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: 'Othello: The Remix' turns up talent and volume at Navy PierBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

The play tragedy "Othello" by William Shakespeare is filled with enough intrigue and drama to satisfy any audience hungry for a story filled with twists and turns.

Secrets are everywhere, ranging from unannounced nuptials and secret romance to jealousy and revenge.

And to great surprise, just as when classically staged with all of the traditional elements, it can work very nicely as an entertaining and beat-driven yarn set to hip-hop music with a modern spin.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, nor should you?

Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier is serving up just this fun formula with the American premiere of "Othello: The Remix," created by The Q Brothers, and now running until April 28 in the Upstairs Theater.

It's the CST-commissioned hip-hop adaptation of Shakespeare's work, "spun out and lyrically rewritten over original beats," and it's here after having returned from an acclaimed world premiere in London at Shakespeare's Globe and a tour to Germany and Edinburgh.

This two-hour, heart-pounding musical mayhem journey of discovery is perfect for any audience and comes to us courtesy of the creative producing talent of CST Creative Producer Rick Boyton. (The latter was also involved in this brotherly duo's creation of "Funk It Up About Nothin' " in February 2011.)

You need not be a fan or expert in the world of hip hop music to appreciate the polish and stamina this cast of four, plus crow's nest DJ Clayton Stamper, bring to audiences of all ages and experiences. Everyone leaves entertained and eager for more, with the latter likely being another visit to Chicago Shakespeare Theater, be it for what's playing on the main stage or another "special programming" option like this one.

The minds behind all of this are The Q Brothers, GQ and JQ (yep...that's the only tags they go by...), siblings born and raised in Chicago. They started their professional careers off Broadway in the hit "The Bomb-itty of Errors."

They are also the acting and singing stars of this performance, joined by the equally talented Jackson Doran, with all three slipping in and out of all of the central character roles. This is, with the exception of the title role Othello, which is exclusively played by Postell Pringle, who is their ideal contrast and just as capable at capturing interest and attention.

As part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad's "Globe to Globe" Festival at Shakespeare's Globe, "Othello: The Remix" had its world premiere as one of 37 companies from around the world presenting Shakespeare's entire canon, each performed in a different language. It was the only production in the festival from North America and was greeted with critical acclaim and sold-out houses. The European tour continued to Germany's Shakespeare Festival im Globe Neuss and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where the Musical Theatre Matters Awards honored the production with Best Musical and Best Lyrics Awards, and the Stage Awards for Acting Excellence nominated the company for Best Ensemble Award.

"Othello: The Remix" is produced by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Richard Jordan Productions Ltd.

Tickets are $20 to $35. All patrons receive a 40 percent discount on guaranteed parking in Navy Pier garages. FYI: (312) 595-5600 or chicagoshakes.com.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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