JPAC Presents the Chicago Premiere of Return to the Forbidden Planet

Return to the Forbidden PlanetJedlicka Performing Arts Center Presents the Chicago Premiere of Return to the Forbidden Planet

Award-Winning Sci-Fi Musical Spoof features classic Rock-n-Roll music and Chicago Media Personalities

The Jedlicka Performing Arts Center (JPAC) in Cicero, Ill. closes its season with the hilarious musical spoof Return to the Forbidden Planet. This production marks the Chicago-area premier of this campy, juke-box musical that won the Olivier Award for Best Musical when it first opened on London’s West End in 1989. This rarely produced Sci-Fi songfest was originally billed as “Shakespeare’s forgotten rock-n-roll musical.” The script by Bob Carlton is loosely based on the 1956 classic “B” Sci-Fi movie Forbidden Planet which, in turn, is loosely based on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The film starred Walter Pidgeon and Anne Francis, but is better known for casting Leslie Nielsen in his first starring role and creating the character of “Robbie the Robot” (known to be the inspiration for one of TV’s most famous robots, B9 of Lost in Space.) The movie forever changed and influenced future Sci-Fi films and was nominated for an academy award for its (then) ground breaking visual effects.

As for the stage production, it enjoyed a successful run in Britain when it first premiered 25 years ago, but that success was never captured in the U.S. As a result, there have been very few productions mounted here in the states.  This rare gem is full of Shakespearean puns and classic Sci-Fi fun and all the music is “juke box” rock-n-roll from the 50’s and 60’s. Songs include “All Shook Up,” “Wipeout,” “Gloria,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Good Vibrations” and many, many more.

JPAC’s production features Timothy Sullivan as The Captain, Micheal Kott as Dr. Prospero, Steve Malone as Ariel, Shana Dagney as Gloria, Taryn Wood as Miranda, Jason Williams as Cookie, Daniel Wilson as Bosun and Hunter Lindner as The Navigational Officer. The ensemble includes Kristin Ross, Amanda Walsh, Mary Doctor, Jennifer Ledesma, Kristin Lutzeier, Jacquelyne Jones, Carisa Gonzalez, Joshua Peterson and Brett Baleski. Each performance will feature a different Chicago Media personality as the “Celebrity Guest Reporter.” Participating personalities include Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times and Fox 32, Jenniffer Weigel of the Chicago Tribune and WGN, Vince Gerasole of CBS 2, Melissa Forman of WCIU-TV’s You & Me This Morning and Nancy Loo, Patrick Elwood and Ana Belaval of WGN TV.

The show is directed by JPAC’s Artistic Director, Dante J. Orfei who is also the Lighting Designer. Scenic Design is by Michael Nedza, Costume Design is by Matthew Guthier and Multimedia Design is by Michael A. Kott. The show is produced by JPAC’s Managing Director, Steve Calzaretta with Choreography by Dina DiCostanzo and Musical Direction by John Warren. The band includes Jon Steinhagen on Keyboard, Robert Dietz on Synthesizer, Brent Moore and Andrea Salcedo on Guitar, Chris Wysoglad on Bass Guitar, Mike Przygoda on Drums, Jered Montgomery and Oscar Gonzalez on Trumpet, Morgan Kupec on Alto Saxophone, Emmanuel Sanchez on Tenor Saxophone and Kaj Fagerberg on Trombone.

The JPAC Theatre, now in its 32nd year, continues its tradition of presenting rarely produced shows and Chicago premieres with this highly-acclaimed musical that has something for everyone from Sci-Fi geeks to Shakespearean snobs to classic rock-n-rollers to musical theater fanatics.

Return to the Forbidden Planet

April 10 – April 25

Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3:00pm

Jedlicka Performing Arts Center

3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero IL

(on the Campus of Morton College)

General Admission: $18, Senior Citizens: $16
Tickets available at or by calling 708-656-1800

About JPAC:

The Jedlicka Performing Arts Center is a professional, non-equity, 346-seat theatre on the campus of Morton College in Cicero, IL. JPAC produces 6 shows a season and is now in its 32nd year. To date, the acclaimed JPAC Theatre has presented more than 150 productions to an estimated quarter of a million people and is one of the busiest non-equity theaters in the Chicago area.

JPAC’s national reputation grew over the years due to its lavish and daring productions on its intimate stage that caught the attention of producers from London to Broadway. In 1990, Academy Award winner, Joseph Brooks launched the North American Premiere of his West End musical Metropolis at the JPAC. After that many other Broadway and West End musicals have had their Premiere Chicago production at the theater including: The Baker’s Wife, Blood Brothers, The Who’s Tommy, Jekyll & Hyde, Aspects of Love, We Will Rock You, Phantom of the Opera and most recently, Big Fish. World Premiere productions include Nefertiti - The MusicalDanger Will Robinson! and the Liberace musical, Mr. Showbiz.

JPAC has also made a similar commitment to non-musical plays. Some of the world’s most successful and acclaimed playwrights have made Chicago-area debuts of their work on the JPAC stage including Ray Cooney, Rupert Holmes, Neil Simon, Steven Dietz and Matthew Barber.

Combining an aggressive producing style and a willingness to take on any artistic challenge, JPAC continues to provide vibrant and affordable theatre to everyone. More information at

Michael Flaherty

Blogger, Writer at Illinois News Network
Michael Flaherty has been writing for Illinois News Network for the past year, first as a beat reporter for Morton 201 schools and now as a general contributor.