Imagine a surf rock musical that starts like this..... “ The summer sun is cookin. The guys and chics good lookin. And school is over for another year. The surf is really poundin. And bodgies walk around in. The latest crazy way out kooky gear... So pass around the pretzels and the beer.” Now try to think what this could possibly have to do with Shakespeare?
In the early 1980’s writer Dennis Watkins made the link. “I tried to imagine what would be the most ludicrous update of Shakespeare you can think of and I arrived at the Beach party movie genre.” Dennis was brought up on the schools out for summer incy wincy bikini movies of the 1960’s , one of his favourites was a gem called “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini”.
After Dennis met Chris Harriott...Beach Blanket Tempest was born and it became a major hit. It was first produced by the New Moon Theatre and toured all over Queensland , The Northern Territory, Adelaide and finally Sydney. It was revived in the early 1990’s and again got great reviews.
The Sun Herald described it as a “high energy, wild and whacky rock spectacular.” The Australian said it “was a nicely rounded pop-musical... but apart from a few cracks of lightning and a bit of a storm at sea” it has little in common with Shakespeare.
Plot / Synopsis
In the Tempest proper, Shakespeare examines the relationship between a Duke called Prospero and his evil and jealous Brother. The brother steals Prospero’s fortune and casts him and his daughter onto an island. While marooned on the island Prospero practises magic , raises his daughter and meets and releases a spirit from a tree. He also meets another ‘resident’ of the island who is the misshapen son of a witch. In Beach Blanket Tempest. The central character is Vince Prospero...he is the Duke of rock n roll .. a superstar of Elvis proportions. He too is marooned on an island with his gorgeous daughter Annette. Their ‘spirit’ is Gidget, a genie released not from a tree but a bottle. She wants to be free and ride the wild surf of the world. The other resident is Moondoggie, a delinquent teenage punk bikie... “ I’m the knife that cuts your finger as you slice a loaf of bread.” Just as in Shakespeare’s Tempest.. a wild storm is whipped up to bring the evil brother and his cohorts to the island. Vince Prospero sets up a series of tests,designed to reveal, in BBT , Tony Prospero’s true evil character. In the 20th century the most entertaining ‘tests’ or quizzes are of course on television. So true to form the last part of the show is a Giant Quiz show... Tony Prospero come on down!!! The chorus sings .. “Will you take the great temptation”, as the evil brother's true character is laid bare. It is spectacular end to a show that is jam packed with thumpingly catchy ballads and tunes, beautiful love duets, thrashing sixties rock and even a visit from the Supremes.
The show can be staged with eight on stage. A new option is to include chorus for schools and amateur theatres.
The chorus become part of the Tempest, spirits on the island, more look alike Supremes, party animals and members of the studio audience.
VINCE PROSPERO: An ex rock and roll superstar with a teenage daughter.
ANNETTE: His daughter, a sweet and innocent teenager.
GIDGET: A magic genie out of a bottle who likes to surf.
MOONDOGGIE: A delinquent punk bikie teenager.
FRANKIE:The perfect guy.
REGINE: A queen of fashion. Frankie's mother
SEBASTIANE: Regine's daggy younger sister.
TONY PROSPERO: Vince's evil brother.
THE SUPREME BEINGS: A sixties singing group. (Played by the actors
playing Gidget, Regine and Sebastiane.)
REVEREND IAN HARPY: An evangelical game show host. (Played by the
actor playing Frankie)
KAREN & SHARON: Game show hostesses.
(Played by the actors playing Gidget and Annette)