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Hamlet! The Musical!

a Musical Black Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA IMPROV MUSICAL
by Shakespeare, Eddie Levi Lee, Rebecca Wackler and Phillip DePoy, with additional material/edits by Drew Reeves and Renee Clarke

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 3742

SHOWING : July 09, 2010 - August 08, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Ladies and Gentlemen, Original Practice has left the building! The year is 2010 and the Denizens of Purgatory have taken over the Shakespeare Tavern to orchestrate their production of HAMLET with the souls of performers to determine their damnation or salvation.

If you thought this was going to be an ASC version of HAMLET with some Elizabethan-style music added, think again. We’ve always known that Shakespeare rocks, and this summer we’ll prove it.

Audience Advisory: This production contains Adult Themes and Violence.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Drew Reeves
Music Director S. Renee Clark
Choreographer Kati Grace Morton
Entertainment Correspondent (Laertes) Nick Arapoglou
Player/Minion/Ensemble Dan Brown
Holy Dreadfuls Gospel Troupe Leader S. Renee Clark
Washed-Up Backup Singer (Ophelia) Becky Cormier
Minion/Ensemble Israel Hillary
Today's Hottest Film Star (Hamlet) J.C. Long
Street Musician (Polonius) Jeff McKerley
Marcellus/Minion/Ensemble Kati Grace Morton
Holy Dreadfuls Musician/Clown/Ensemble Matt Nitchie
Film Star's Mother (Gertrude) Lynna Schmidt
Bernardo/Holy Dreadfuls Musician/Other Mark W. Schroeder
Aging Musician/Drug Dealer (Claudius) Travis Smith
Horatio/Minion/Ensemble David Sterritt
Blind Man Who Sees All Jeff Watkins
Film Star's Runaway Father (Ghost) Clarke Weigle
Holy Dreadfuls Drummer James Whitney
Osric/Holy Dreadfuls Musician/Ensemble Maureen Yasko
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Incredible!
by DragonPiper
Thursday, August 5, 2010
5.0
Hamlet! The Musical was one of the best renditions of Hamlet I've seen! There were obvious deviations from the original play, but they only added to the overall production. The music was wonderful, and the acting was PHENOMENAL. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
It's back and it's fully as insane as it was 20 years ago!
by Marjorie F Cooper
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
4.5
I've been waiting for many years now for someone to get the rights to Hamlet the Musical. Those of us who saw it at the Theatrical Outfit love to find someone else who saw it so we can giggle and play the "remember when" game. Drew Reeves has updated the mayhem and created a wonderful Hamlet. Many of us in the audience were gasping at the clever way the cast riffed on the characters and plot points of the play. I definitely plan to see this again. I'd advise you to get a ticket soon. I'm sure they will sell out soon.
PS: Thanks for keeping the chain saw, Drew. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
It’s still rock ‘n’ roll to me
by Lady Mac
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
4.0
About halfway through “Hamlet: The Musical,” a song is performed twice. The first time, it’s drowned out by a flurry of noisy distractions, sight gags and non sequiturs. Then, after a “rewind,” it is performed again – with all focus on the heartfelt meaning of the ballad, this play’s equivalent of the tribute to Hecuba performed for Hamlet by the traveling troupe of actors.

The same could be said about “Hamlet: The Musical” as a whole. You could spend the whole evening focusing on the screwball comedy, the updated cultural references, the wacky lyrics, the sexually charged costumes and innuendos. You also could focus on the surprisingly sincere, poignant and philosophical moments – the beautifully done Shakespeare, the gripping examination of life and death … and what comes after.

The interesting thing is that it all often takes place simultaneously. It’s a drama, a comedy, a musical, a farce – a little of everything in a confusing emotional mix. As such, it’s almost impossible to “package” – or even describe. It’s a theatrical experience that unapologetically plays by its own rules.

The plot (I think) is that a hodgepodge of modern stereotypes – the hotshot movie star, the has-been rocker (with strong, probably intentional, similarities to Bret Michaels), the strung-out backup singer, the cougar actress – somehow end up together in Purgatory. There (I guess) they are supposed to perform in an impromptu “Hamlet” production, with the apparent reward being a ticket to heaven (maybe?). Why “Hamlet”? What implausible coincidence brought all of these folks to Purgatory at the same moment? And whose idea is this play-for-advancement plan, anyway? In short: HUH?

Honestly, it’s hard to know what’s going on, but that’s really not the point. This is about the music and the performances, which do not disappoint. J.C. Long as the big-name actor, Travis Smith as the washed-up rock star and Lynna Schmidt as the actor’s mother, in particular, are mesmerizing – and not just because of their outstanding musical performances. They also turn in acting performances that dazzle at each stage of their evolution. As the play progresses, they gradually transform from the modern-day “actors” awkwardly reading scripts and delivering choppy, uncomfortable lines for comic effect (mercifully, the carrying-the-script phase was brief) into smooth, eloquent embodiments of the Shakespearean characters. “Big-name actor,” by the end of the play-within-a-play, has shed not only his script but also his reluctant attitude – and actually *become* Hamlet. It’s an impressive effect that all of the principals handle effortlessly.

The lyrics are sometimes a little difficult to decipher, and the songs achieve mixed results. A musical presentation of Polonius’ sage advice is lighthearted and joyful. A three-part character analysis sung during Claudius’ “my sin is rank” speech is an insightful show-stopper that rivals the theatrical power of many Broadway standards. An “intermission” sequence is the play’s frat-house silliness. The music keeps you guessing and interested to see what’s coming next, especially if you know your “Hamlet.” (Speaking of which: Watch for some nice inside jokes for “Hamlet” geeks, especially a running gag about the lesser characters and glorified extras with names. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern get very little respect in this one, but that’s OK. They have their own play.)

I won’t say anything about the ending other than that it packs a lot more wallop than the rest of the play will lead you to expect – or even than many other, more consistently serious plays have. Though much of the play will remind you of some of the goofiest moments of “The Complete Works,” you’ll be surprised at how long the play may have you thinking afterward -- about issues much deeper than burly men in cocktail dresses with feather fans.

When the Shakespeare Tavern says this is not your grandfather’s “Hamlet,” believe it. If the thought of Gertrude in leather pants and red stilettos is going to make you queasy, steer clear. And yet, there is a lot going on here that will intrigue Shakespeare lovers and pique their curiosity. How will they interpret Ophelia’s meltdown? You’ll have to watch and find out.
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THANK YOU, Lady Mac . . . by 1G740
... for saving me lots of time, as I was about to ATTEMPT to post a review (my first ever on this site); then I read your review and I pretty much agree with it all (plus you said it way better than I would have).
ah, one additional comment by 1G740
Something that I thought was wonderful was the use of so many different musical instruments (violin, MANY guitars, flutes, harmonica, bass, etc.), and in using ALL the cast members to play them. "Christian Souls", the acapella number, was also a standout.


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