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Cleveland Public Theatre presents ‘Titus: A Grand and Gory Rock Opera’

“Limbs are torn off, tongues are cut out…and everybody sings.”
“Limbs are torn off, tongues are cut out…and everybody sings.”
Cleveland Public Theatre

Raymond Bobgan (Executive Artistic Director for Cleveland Public Theatre) has announced the world premiere of “Titus: A Grand and Gory Rock Musical”. The work is conceived and directed by Craig J. George and features original music by Dennis Yurich and Alison Garrigan. The show is based on Shakespeare’s work of revenge “Titus Andronicus” but with a twist. The CPT version features searing vocals, shocking stage gore and gritty sets.

CPT does not spare any expense as far as special effects and stage blood. Holding true with the original Shakespeare script that along with the gore is full of humor that includes wordplay as well as bawdy wit and combined with an original rock score.

Bobgan describes TITUS as a “bloody, bawdy and ballsy” production that will hold wide appeal for the Cleveland audience. On CPT’s decision to produce the work, Bobgan explains: “The first production of my first season as Executive Artistic Director was a Shakespeare play conceived by Craig—it was awesome. Recently, while he was in town directing Standing on Ceremony, we got to talking and this wild idea started to emerge. Yes, there are a lot of “takes” on Shakespeare, but TITUS: A Grand and Gory Rock Musical is a version that you would only expect in Cleveland at CPT!”

Director Craig J. George explains his interpretation of Shakespeare’s text: “The combination of comedy and tragedy, and the plot line itself, is so bizarre, but in some ways, very relatable. These kinds of things are still happening—revenge cycles—and they were happening back then, almost 1500 or 2000 years ago, all the way to ancient Rome. The revenge cycle, once it gets started, just feeds itself. That is ultimately what this play is about; the origins of violence. And yet, the way it’s written—but not often performed—is an entertaining play. There is comedy that [Shakespeare] intentionally wrote into it; bad puns, word play used in bad taste. We’re embracing that quality from the very first moments of the play. It’s a deadly serious story, but its fun, too.”

TITUS follows Shakespeare’s story of a Roman general, Titus Andronicus (played by Dana Hart), who has returned from ten years of war to find all but four of his twenty five sons killed in battle. He is accompanied by his captive-bride Tamora, Queen of the Goths (Alison Garrigan), along with her three sons and her secret lover, Aaron the Moor (Lawrence Charles). In adherence to Roman ritual, Titus sacrifices one of Tamora’s sons to honor the death of his own, thus enraging Tamora and setting off the bloody cycle of revenge that drives the play. Considered by many to be the Elizabethan equivalent of a modern-day “slasher film,” Titus Andronicus is one of the Bard’s less produced works, due in no small part to the seemingly relentless string of violent acts. And yet, in another similarity with the modern day horror genre, Shakespeare’s text is full of humor, including wordplay, bawdy wit, and an over-the-top sensibility that provides relief from the show’s gruesome themes.

The production design offers a “mashup of Roman antiquity and a rock concert,” featuring an industrial-inspired scenic design (by Todd S. Krispinsky) and costumes (by Jenniver Sparano) that blend a contemporary gothic look with classical elements.

Cast and Crew of TITUS: A Grand and Gory Rock Musical
“Titus: A Grand and Gory Rock Musical” was conceived and directed by Craig J. George, with music by Dennis Yurich and Alison Garrigan. Musical Direction by Brad Wyner. “Titus” features an all-Cleveland cast, starring Dana Hart* (as Titus), Alison Garrigan (Tamora, Queen of the Goths) and Lawrence Charles (Aaron), with Amiee Collier, Jon Conley, Ryan Edlinger, Val Kozlenko, Justine Kunstler, Pat Miller, Matt O’Shea, Christopher Sanders and Justin Williams.

*Appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association.

The TITUS band is Brad Wyner (Conductor, Keyboards), John Fitzpatrick Pringpuangkeo (Guitar), Tim Pringpuangkeo (Upright & Electric Bass) and Richard Kline (Drums).

Complete creative team includes Craig J. George (Creator/Director), Dennis Yurich & Alison Garrigan (Music), Brad Wyner (Music Direction), Martìn Cèspedes (Choreographer), Jenniver Sparano (Costume Designer), Carlton Guc (Sound Designer), Dusten Welch (Fight Choreographer), Todd S. Krispinsky (Set Designer), P.J. Toomey (Special Effects Designer) and Ben Gantose (Lighting Designer).

Production team includes Lauren Calevich (Stage Manager), Cyrus Taylor (Sound Operator) and Aaron Rutz (Assistant Stage Manager).

Preview performance of TITUS: A Grand and Gory Rock Musical is Thursday, March 6 at 7:30pm. Show opens Friday, March 7 and runs through Saturday, March 22, 7:30pm in CPT’s Gordon Square Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District.

Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday at 7:30pm, with a special matinee performance on Sunday, March 16th at 3:00pm. Opening night reception is Friday, March 7 with free food and drinks after the show.

Tickets are $12 – $28.

Take advantage of $12 tickets on Monday and Thursday shows. Student and Senior discounts ($3 off) are available for Friday and Saturday performances.

Every Friday is FREE BEER FRIDAY at CPT. Audience members are invited to mingle with the artists after the show and enjoy a drink or two on CPT.

Group discounts are available. Call James Kosmatka, CPT Director of Patron Services at (216) 631-2727 x203 for more information.

Tickets are available for purchase online at www.cptonline.org or by phone at (216) 631-2727 x 501.