27th Season (2015–2016)

Hamlet

January 27 - March 13, 2010 | Margeson Theater

By William Shakespeare

“To be, or not to be, that is the question…”

Shakespeare’s great tragedy follows a young prince haunted by his murdered father’s ghost and driven to the edge of madness. To be or not to be is the question.

Drama – Ages 12 & Up

Ensemble

Dramatis Personae
– Francisco, a guard: Steve Hendrickson*
– Bernardo, a guard: Julian Elijah Martinez
– Marcellus, a guard: Brendan Rogers
– Horatio, a scholar from Wittenberg University: Walter Kmiec
– The Ghost of King Hamlet, the former King of Denmark: Johnny Lee Davenport*
– King Claudius, his brother and the present King: Eric Zivot*
– Queen Gertrude, widow of King Hamlet and wife of King Claudius: Anne Hering*
– Voltimand, a diplomat: Bob Dolan*
– Cornelia, his wife and fellow diplomat: Katherine Skelton
– Laertes, a young courtier and son to Polonius: Stafford Clark-Price*
– Polonius, chief advisor to the King: Steve Hendrickson*
– Ophelia, his daughter and Prince Hamlet’s beloved: Marni Penning*
– Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark: Avery Clark*
– Osric, a flamboyant courtier: Brandon Roberts
– Reynaldo, a courtier: Grant Jordan
– Lady in Waiting: Brit Cooper Robinson
– Guildenstern, childhood friend of Prince Hamlet’s: Michael Gill
– Rosencrantz, childhood friend of Prince Hamlet’s: Regan McLellan
– The Player King, a wizened actor and mentor to Prince Hamlet: Johnny Lee Davenport*
– The Player Troupe: Alea Figueroa, Stafford Clark-Price*, Julian Elijah Martinez, Brendan Rogers & Grant Jordan
– Prince Fortinbras, the young Prince of Norway: Brendan Rogers
– A Captain, a member of the Norweyan army: Grant Jordan
– Fortinbras Soldiers: Grant Jordan, Brandon Roberts, Julian Elijah Martinez, Walter Kmiec
– A Gravedigger: Johnny Lee Davenport*
– The Gravedigger’s Apprentice: Marni Penning*
– The Priest: Michael Gill
– The English Ambassador: Julian Elijah Martinez

Production Team
– Director: Richard Width
– Scenic Design: Bob Phillips**
– Lighting Design: Bert Scott**
– Costume Design: Denise Warner
– Sound Design: Matthew Given
– Fight Choreography: Richard Width
– Fight Captain: Eric Zivot*
– Stage Manager: Stacy Renee Norwood*
– Assistant Stage Manager: George Hamrah*
– Production Assistants: Andrea Herbert, Brittany Sullivan, E.J. Wilson & Sophia Wise
– Board Operators: Zanna King &Mike Warden
– Wardrobe Supervisor: Phillip Giggey
*Denotes a member of Actors’ Equity Association **Denotes a member of United Scenic Artists

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Critic and Audience Reviews

The Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s “Hamlet” looks on paper like a standard-issue high-concept production, transplanted from ancient Denmark to Victorian England. But Richard Width and Bob Phillips, the director and set designer, respectively, have stirred in a cupful of spooky horror-show populism, pumping the stage full of mist and making eye-catching use of a strategically positioned trapdoor. One might almost be watching an unusually literate vampire flick aimed at a youthful audience, an impression reinforced by Avery Clark’s flamboyantly physical performance of the title role. Mr. Clark is supported by a finely spoken cast–I especially liked Marni Penning as Ophelia, Steve Hendrickson as Polonius and Eric Zivot as Claudius–and by the sound design of Matthew Given, who has mashed up Brahms, Dvorak, Debussy and Arvo Pärt into a sumptuous sonic backdrop.

All this makes for one of the most theatrically potent “Hamlets” I’ve seen in a good many seasons, far fresher than last year’s Jude Law-powered Broadway production and, I suspect, more accessible to boot. I brought along two friends who’d never seen “Hamlet” and knew nothing about the play beyond the barest of basics. Both found it exciting, absorbing and–most important–intelligible.

“A Hamlet sharp until the end.”

Avery Clark’s Hamlet slips in and out of the cloak of madness as if he’s slipping on and off a mask. In Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s newest production of Hamlet, there’s little question that this Danish prince has every one of his marbles. Watch him with the windbag Polonius, and it’s clear that Clark’s Hamlet is monkeying with the oblivious old man. But watch him with his friend Horatio, and the mask is gone: This Hamlet may be gripped by fury, but he’s as lucid a young man as ever walked Elsinore’s halls.

That clarity is a hallmark of director Richard Width’s production, which lays aside high concepts — like the video monitors of Orlando Shakespeare’s 2002 Hamlet — for clear, unfettered speech. Width has set this staging at the end of the 19th century, when the world of the mind was expanding and belief in the otherworldly was at a peak. But despite the Victorian-era costumes, the production has a stripped-down look, and nothing gets in the way of the young prince and the wheels spinning in his mind.

And how those wheels do spin! When Clark’s Hamlet first catches your eye, he’s a mourner at a wedding, an unhappy young man who puts on the mask of civility for his mother’s sake. When he sees that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are spying on him, he lashes out with anger and sarcasm. But there’s something grounded about this Hamlet: Even as he’s about to die, Clark finds both sanity and the remnants of the “antic disposition” that, in this Hamlet, make him so modern a man.

The sound of a discordant violin wafts through this production, which takes place in the gloom of a dark-walled castle (scenic design is by Bob Phillips, lighting by Bert Scott, sound by Matthew Given and costumes by Denise Warner). There it’s no wonder that ghosts appear (and Johnny Lee Davenport’s mighty ghost, rising as he does in clouds of mist, is a formidable sight). And there it’s no surprise that men betray men, and that friends and enemies alike are trapped in deals they did not intend to make.

Laertes (Stafford Clark-Price), for example, is a loving brother and son who gets caught up in a murderous plot. Polonius (Steve Hendrickson) is a loyal courtier and Ophelia (Marni Penning) a robust, right-minded young woman, but both are out of their league. If Eric Zivot’s Claudius and Anne Hering’s Gertrude, both of them straightforward and clear, seem a bit overshadowed, it may be because of the power of Davenport in three key smaller roles — as the ghost, the Player King and the gravedigger, whose grizzled common sense is abetted by Penning as his goofy apprentice.

If anything, it’s that doubling of roles (or tripling, in Davenport’s case and some others) that saps a bit of this Hamlet’s strength: It’s too clear in this small theater that the same actor who plays Guildenstern is also the priest, and that Clark-Price is also one of the Players.

But that’s a quibble in as clear-eyed a production as this one — a Hamlet that shows, above all else, how utterly normal people can lead themselves astray.

“…director Richard Width has crafted a supremely theatrical show stocked with energy and accessibility…”

“‘Hamlet,’ as produced by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, delivers an entertaining, moving and worthy production of this classic.”

“This show opened with the absolute best ‘Hamlet’s Father’s Ghost on the Parapet’ I’ve seen.”

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