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Return to the Forbidden Planet creator Bob Carlton dies

Bob Carlton pictured at The Stage New Year Party 2015. Photo: Alex Brenner

Bob Carlton, who created Return to the Forbidden Planet, has died.

The writer and director created the jukebox rock and roll musical, which is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in the mid-1980s. It later transferred to the West End and won the Olivier award for best new musical in 1990.

Carlton was also artistic director of the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch for 17 years, stepping down in 2014. [1]

Carlton’s other writing credits include From a Jack to a King, which ran in the West End in 1992 and You’ll Never Walk Alone for the Liverpool Everyman in 1983.

Among those to pay early tributes to Carlton were Twitter personality West End Producer, who credited him with “[pioneering] the whole actor-musician genre”.

Prior to his tenure at the Queen’s Theatre, Carlton was artistic director of the London Bubble Theatre Company, where he first wrote Return to the Forbidden Planet and where he introduced actors who also played music on stage.

In a 2014 interview with The Stage [4], Carlton said the practice came from “a really populist theatre idea”.

Obituary: Bob Carlton [5]

He said: “We were playing to people that didn’t really go to the theatre and it was this terrible thing where you could do the greatest ever performance of Hamlet and the audience reaction would be, ‘If I had the bottle to stand on stage and remember all those lines, I could do that’. But you play three chords on the guitar and the respect for you changes.”