He told me that in the days leading up to the July concert performance of “Kronborg: 1582”, a rock opera that he had written in 1973, he had been worried.
Originally produced by the Charlottetown Festival in 1975, it was one of the Confederation Centre of the Arts most successful productions. Starring Brent Carver and Beverly D'Angelo, the musical went on to play on Broadway.
“But my big concern about doing it again was, was it dated?” says Jones, who has a summer home in Stratford, P.E.I.
However, his fears subsided after meeting the performers, including P.E.I.’s Aaron Hastelow as Hamlet, Cam MacDuffee as Claudius, Kristen Pottle as Ophelia, Alana Hibbert as Gertrude and others too numerous to mention.
“First it was the enthusiasm and the really getting into it by this young cast. Then, the response at Indian River was overwhelming. So, I’m happy to say it still stands up,” says Jones, adding that after the sold-out show this past July, the Charlottetown Festival Ensemble and orchestra is bringing the rock opera classic back to Confederation Centre in an encore performance on Sept. 5.
“I am elated.”
Based on the Shakespearean tragedy, “Hamlet”, it’s the story of a Danish prince who plots revenge on his uncle for killing his father.
Jones is no stranger to storytelling for the Canadian stage and screen. He has written scripts for everything from political satire songs for the CBC radio show, “Inside from the Outside” to detailed scripts for “Mr. Dressup” and “The Tommy Hunter Show” and an “Anne Murray Special”.
As a creator, he’s discovered that working in one area often affects another area of his life.
“Because I was writing for the ‘Tommy Hunter Show’, I was influenced by his music. So the first song I wrote for ‘Kronborg: 1582’ was ‘He Got it In the Ear’. It’s a country and western song,” says Jones, with a laugh.
Now as he awaits the Sept. 5 show, his worry is gone.
“Hearing Craig Fair’s updated orchestrations blow me away. He’s taking the musical to the 21st century.”
Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at sally.cole@TheGuardian.pe.ca or by phone at 902-629-6000, ext. 6054.