BY MELANIE WADE
One of the most beloved of all of William Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet, will open on the stage of the Ouachita Little Theatre on October 20, providing a special treat for theatre patrons. Directors Brad Storey and Assistant Director Becky Norris selected a cast of experienced actors to tackle the daunting task of bringing a Shakespearean piece to life, and added some new to the acting world as well, although you can’t tell the difference, as they also bring high quality acting to the stage.’
Hamlet is a tragedy that follows the life of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. Hamlet wishes to revenge his father’s murder, committed by his own brother, who then marries Hamlet’s mother. The play is one of the most performed of all of Shakespeare’s plays, and although it is the longest, OLT’s Storey and Norris have trimmed it down to a length the audience will enjoy, while still being able to follow the full story.
Julie Ulmer, OLT’s media relations officer, has watched the performance in its entirety and says the audience will appreciate the job well done by the directors, the actors, and the stage crew. “It was obvious to me that the people involved both onstage and behind the scenes are committed to making Hamlet an OLT production that will long be remembered for its effort to well represent this Shakespearian tragedy. Director Brad Storey and Assistant Director/Fight Coach Becky Norris have been working with the actors diligently to make sure they understand the minute details of their characters’ motivation. Their efforts have proved worthy as this is some of the finest acting to meet the OLT stage,” raved Ulmer. She added, “The sword duals and fistfights are believable and exciting.”
Following is a review written by Ulmer:
The costumes constructed and supervised by Jane Buttermilk (who also plays the queen in some performances) are beautiful and true to the Shakespearian times. Buttermilk enlisted the assistance of veteran OLT costumer Linda Schell, who is not only familiar to OLT audiences, but also revered by theatre folks for her decades of service to the theatre. Schell originally made many of the stunning costumes, including a new one for the leading role of Hamlet. The backstage work, sound, lights and sets are all on point, indicating the production will be first rate on opening night.
It is this reviewer’s recommendation that theatre patrons do a little preparatory work to get the most out of this timeless tragedy. Anyone who has read a Shakespearean play in high school knows that it can be easy to get a little lost in the beautiful and lyrical language of the play and confuse or miss a subtle plot line. If you will review a short synopsis of Hamlet online before you go to the theatre, you will follow the story easily. This will allow you to more fully enjoy the pathos, humor, and depth of emotion present in this epic work of art. It is also my opinion that the acts taking place after the intermission are the most exciting in the play, so don’t miss the ending! Director Storey has made a conscientious effort to trim some of the scenes and keep the play moving quickly so it will fit into our modern time constraints.
In short, this production of Hamlet is well worth your time. One of the goals of OLT is to present theater of all kinds, including the tragedy. While we all love to laugh and leave a theatre singing a favorite song, there is something to be said for dramatic dialogue, an eerie graveyard scene, ghostly apparitions, and feigned madness. It is why one of the faces on the famous theatre logo looks sad…. or perhaps, in this case, a little frightened. Don’t miss an amazing opportunity to safely venture a little toward the dark side this Halloween and see a fantastic OLT production in Hamlet!
OLT’s Hamlet will be performed the next two weekends, October 20-23 and 27-30. All Friday, Saturday, and Monday performances are at 7:30 PM; Sundays are at 2:30 PM. Tickets can be purchased at the theatre 45 minutes prior to show times, or stop by the OLT office on weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. You can also visit their website, www.oltmena.com.