Steve Walters and Heath Gage are not gangsters – not even close. And the bits of rap they "busted out" for me at the Pearl Cup the afternoon before THE BOMB-ITTY OF ERRORS dress rehearsal would most aptly be described as "nerdcore."
But what did I expect when I heard Second Thought Theatre was producing Shakespeare's THE COMEDY OF ERRORS with hip-hop beats and urban street couplets? Jay –Z?
Despite any expectations these melanin- deficient lads have pieced together around 26 songs based on the original script by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, GQ and Erik Weiner. And they're pumped about it.
"Shakespeare is ripe for reinvention," said Walters, co-artistic director of Second Thought. " And that's exactly what we've done. With the music, Heath brought a new vibrancy to an awesome script."
In many previous BOMB-ITTY productions, there are four rappers and a DJ, but Gage has "laid down a track" to function as one unit with the lights and video projections. No DJ required.
Gage, who is an audio engineer at the Granada Theater, said he's never done anything like it. "When they asked me if I wanted to be a part of the team, I thought yeah let's do it," Gage said.
His inspiration for the music? "Gotta be Public Enemy. Old 90's rap – the good stuff."
Like any good investigative journalist, I looked up THE BOMB-ITTY OF ERRORS online. First to make sure I spelled the play right, and then to ask the burning question – is this show always four nerdy white guys?
That was exactly what I typed into the Contact box on the play's website. A few days later one of the original writers Erik Weiner called me from Los Angeles.
"Well, I mean, I guess so," Weiner said. "I didn't think of us as nerdy, but we were four white guys at NYU in our early 20's…."
That was 1997. Since then THE BOMB-ITTY OF ERRORS has been produced around the world, sometimes by four women, sometimes three men and a woman, sometimes by nerdy black guys, sometimes by people who can actually rap like Jay-Z. But mostly by four nerdy white guys.
In fact, Second Thought brought in the inimitable Zac Kelty to perform alongside Walters, company member Drew Wall (RED LIGHT WINTER) and Joseph Holt. Kelty is a company member of Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble in Brisbane, Australia and will take Gage's music for a production of BOMB-ITTY down under.
Kelty brings with him high energy levels and some "sick beats." This show marks Second Thought's return to Dallas with its new tenure at Bryant Hall and they are bringing the party to D-Town with them.
"The best thing about this show is that fans of Shakespeare will like it and fans of rap will like it," Walters said. "I've got to warn you though, there will be some booty shakin'."