‘Hamlet Hears a Who’ combines Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss
Taking William Shakespeare’s longest play, âThe Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,â and condensing it into a one-act play is no small feat.
So take the bard’s story and change the lines of Dr. Seuss’ rhymes?
Another challenge, indeed.
One that the artists and crew at Bayfield High School are making with aplomb in their production of “Hamlet Hears a Who”, which opens Friday (November 12) at the Bayfield Performing Arts Center and continues next weekend.
Director Claire Harvey said she chose the play because it combines Shakespeare’s classic tale of murder, love and betrayal, then adds something high school performers remember – nursery rhymes beloved of their childhood. The play is written by Christina Hamlett and Jamie Dare.
She also wanted a play with a wide cast so that many students would get replicas, which the cast of 30 students would bring to life.
Set in modern times, Hamlet is a desperate student skipping class, played with youthful angst by Charlie O’Hair. His cell phone constantly rings Wagner’s wedding march, which is a series of endless calls from his needy girlfriend, Ophelia, played by Freya Underwood. She stylishly plays the role of a power-hungry young woman who wants to marry a prince no matter what the cost.
Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, played by Linda Stephenson, is the icy matriarch who barely recognizes her husband’s death, then quickly marries her brother, Claudius, played by Peyton Cordova, so she can remain queen. Cordova’s Claudius is idle, bored, and not at all fazed by the idea of ââmurdering his brother.
Hamlet’s father, however, has other ideas.
Named Bob in this production, the ghostly figure of Hamlet Sr. returns to haunt his son, urging him to kill Claudius to avenge his death. Bob is played by Don Ledvina, who drinks coffee during their jokes.
Here is Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, in the style of Dr. Seuss:
“To be or not to? I am very upset.
How messed up can my psyche be?
Lost, private and too desperate –
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been born.
My friends all think I’m not cool.
I miss all the classes in the school.
I’m supposed to be in charge
Wear crowns and live big!
Instead, I’ll have to go to work.
Such a loser, such a jerk.
All because my father died.
All because my uncle lied.
The proof was clear as day
And yes, they said, ‘It’s just a play.’
All my best-laid plans are undone!
Where’s the revenge? Where’s the fun?
What is the point of continuing?
Would they cry if I was gone?
What if death was the path I chose?
No wait. I would miss my favorite shows. â
And in response to Hamlet’s eternal question: “To be or not? his father’s ghost, sipping a Starbucks, replies, “What you need is a helpful spirit!”
A comedic star turn comes from Brad Foutz, who plays OphÃ©lie’s brother, Laertes.
Dressed in a black leather jacket and looking like a 1950s gang member, he offers to stab Hamlet for not paying enough attention to his sister. Fortunately, she cancels the idea. Ophelia’s father, Polonius, is a fast-talking father figure played by Jeremy Reynolds.
At the start of the play, Shakespeare’s classic witches throw Dr. Seuss hats and Cat in the Hat dolls into the cauldron while reciting their verses.
They are played by Chloe Sarnow, Lilly Bailey, Ashlyn Talbot and Paige Talbot.
Harvey is thrilled to be back in charge of his alma mater. Graduating from BHS in 2010, she is even more thrilled with the stage and seats of the Performing Arts Center, which was built after her graduation and departure for Asuza Pacific University in California.
WHAT: Hamlet hears a who.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday today), Saturday November 18 and 19 and 2 p.m. Saturday.
OR: Bayfield Performing Arts Center, 800 County Road 501, Bayfield.
TICKETS: Adults $ 7, students $ 5.
A professional actress, she was busy performing in productions in Los Angeles when COVID-19 hit, canceling theatrical performances with devastating finality.
She had acted in “As You Like It” and “Twelfth Night” by Shakepeare and in musicals such as “Pirates of Penzance” and “The Wizard of Oz”. She was also a production manager for the group Paper Jackets and a member of the production team for the American Contemporary Ballet.
She returned home to Bayfield after the start of the pandemic, then met BHS Music Director Derek Smith, who urged her to apply for the part-time theater teaching position in high school.
âI love this scene,â she said, noting that it is larger than many theaters she has performed in.
Deputy Director Michael Suazo and the team created modern decor featuring Hamlet’s dormitory, his parents’ palace suite, and what may be the only Starbucks cafe set in a Shakespeare play.
Shakespeare fans, Dr Seuss devotees and theater fans in general will appreciate this comedic comedy against a tragic backdrop.