An adaptation of an all-time classic novel and feature films is coming to Kingsborough Community College. After award-winning director Joe Tantalo brought last year’s successful adaptation of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to the Brooklyn school, he and Godlight Theater Company are trying to recapture the excitement with a production of the beloved “Cool Hand Luke.” The show is adapted by Emma Reeves.
“The movie, book and play share iconic moments,” said Tantalo, who explains audiences will get to know more of Luke than they did in the film, yet still stay true to the classic. “The show won’t disappoint anyone familiar with the motion picture but the book and adaptation deal with more of the character’s backstory from his experiences in war. Really, it’s a play that is dealing with the pain of his past and how it affects his behavior. To his inmates, he becomes a false idol.”
The live show will be able add elements in ways the movie doesn’t get into. “While this will feel familiar, it will also be new, different and exciting all at same time,” Tantalo continued. “It goes into his past. The movie doesn’t explore the nuances of Luke’s life and why he’s acting out the way he is.”
A production this ambitious needs a talented crew, from the cast to the creative team. Tantalo is excited to work with actors that have been in several of his shows, as well as inject new talent into the fray.
“They’re all great. It’s mainly a company of actors I work with all the time. The theater company has been around for 20 years. We’re also introducing new faces and great freshness which will be great for the process,” he said. “We’ve also been working with longtime lighting, sound composers and set designers.”
The show will star Lawrence Jansen, who also played R.P. McMurphy in “Cuckoo’s Nest” last season.
Tantalo’s second go-around at producing a show at Kingsborough excites him for many reasons, particularly its stage, which he plans to transform into a natural environment as opposed to cluttering it with set pieces.
“The space at Kingsborough is so beautiful and big that I don’t want to put a lot of stuff on stage,” he noted. “I’m trying to find the best scenic gesture that can serve multiple areas of the piece. It will transform itself through the audience’s imagination.” The stage is also expected to be unique in that it will be heavily lit.
The performance will take place at Kingsborough, 2001 Oriental Boulevard, on Saturday, March 28 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $25.
Tantalo, who has been directing since he was 16 years old, founded Godlight in 1994 and it has grown steadily ever since. He is excited to continue his work at the Brooklyn community college. “I’m grateful for opportunity. It’s a unique process for us because it’s only one night. Typically we spend a couple of weeks putting a show through previews slowly opening it,” he explained. “Doing something under a constrained amount of time is crazy but it forces you to focus. My expectation is that it’s going to be as successful as last year. We have a tremendous group of people I count on. We’re all in it for the love of it.”
To purchase tickets, visit www.onstageatkingsborough.com or call 718-368-5596.