Warrior Prince Sings in 'Beowulf: The Rock Opera'

"Beowulf," the circa eighth-century English verse epic that is the bane of college students the world over, is now a rock opera by "Saturday Night Live" musician Lenny Pickett, opening Oct. 16 in Manhattan.

The world premiere production by The Irish Repertory Theatre began Oct. 7 and continues to Nov. 13. It opened the Off-Broadway's company's 2005-06 season.

Artistic director Charlotte Moore stages the production, written by "Saturday Night Live" musical director Lenny Pickett (composer and lyricist) and Lindsey Turner (lyricist).

Beowulf is billed as "a 21st century ritualistic rock opera." The cast of Beowulf features Richard Barth as the title character, Edwin Cahill, David Garry, Bill Daelin Gross, John Halbach, Jay Lusteck, Shaun R. Parry and Jack Wadell. Musical direction is by Mark Janus.

"Fiery dragons, magic swords and severed heads populate this epic sixth century tale of Beowulf; a fierce and romantic young warrior who arrives on a foreign shore seeking to repay its king for saving his father's life," according to the Irish Rep. "This brave and sometimes foolish young prince hopes to return the favor whilst enhancing his reputation and gaining treasure for his king. But first, the demon, Grendel and his monster-woman mother must be challenged and slaughtered! As Beowulf, mortally wounded is sent out to sea in a flaming funeral pyre, we hear the pure tones of a Celtic harpist relating his legend to the ages."

The original text is thought to have been written by a Northumbrian writer, who drew on Scandinavian, Germanic and Christian themes, archetypes and stories.

Set design is by "SNL" production designer Akira Yoshimura, costume design is by Randall Klein, lighting design is by Brian Nason, sound design is by Zachary Williamson, and monsters and puppets are designed by Bob Flanagan.

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