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Dinner Theatre performs “I Hate Hamlet”

Posted on 02.20.2013

The University of Indianapolis Theatre Department’s Dinner Theatre production of “I Hate Hamlet” began Feb. 14 with a free preview.

The play revolves around young television actor Andrew Rally, played by junior theatre major Ross Percell, who relocates to New York to focus on theatre after his popular television show is cancelled. Rally’s real estate agent, Felicia Dantine, convinces him to move into the apartment of the famous actor John Barrymore, who was known for being the greatest actor to ever play Hamlet.

Rally is offered the role of Hamlet in the upcoming Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet. His girlfriend, Deirdre McDavey, loves Shakespeare, and his agent, realtor and Deirdre are excited about Andrew’s role in the play. The only problem is, Andrew hates Hamlet.

In a proud theatrical tradition, the ghost of Barrymore, played by associate Adjunct Theatre Faculty James Leagre, comes back from the grave to teach a reluctant Andrew in the ways of Hamlet.

(l-r)Gary Peter Lefkowitz (Will Schnabel) and Andrew Rally (Ross Percell) discuss Andrew ’s upcoming performance. Photo Contributed by Brad Wright.

This is the first time in a few years that a faculty member has performed with his or her students, and Leagre said it was a fun but challenging time.

“I’m very involved in the play, with my part, helping with production and choreographing a sword fight,” Leagre said. “So it’s a lot of work. But I also like being able to work with my students in this capacity and having us look at each other as fellow actors and not as professor and student.”

The play itself is a comedy with a serious undertone about a young man questioning whether he wants to play Hamlet to make his girlfriend happy and reach a goal or take a network deal that would bring fame and a quick fix to his problems.

Associate Professor and Director of Theatre Brad Wright compared the differences between “I Hate Hamlet” and previous Dinner Theatres.

“The last few years have seen a lot of farcical comedies, such as ‘Funny Valentines’ and ‘There’s a Burglar in My Bed,’” Wright said. “In ‘Burglar,’ for example, the characters find themselves in compromising situations and one man even has a toilet seat stuck on his head. It’s very situational. ‘I Hate Hamlet,’ on the other hand, has that comedy but it’s not sitcom, and there’s a level of seriousness behind the laughter.”

Gags throughout the play include  implications towards Barrymore’s life as a womanizer and his tendency to be a ham when acting on stage; the hinting of a fling between Andrew’s agent, Lillian Troy, and Barrymore, in the apartment that Andrew now resides in and the fact that Deirdre is a  proud 29-year-old virgin who Andrew says he knows he loves because he wants to strangle her.

Senior psychology major Mark Nania talked about the characters in the production and a parallel he noticed.

“I saw how the characters had counterparts in the real Hamlet, and I liked that, as well as the humor. It didn’t compromise the seriousness of the story,”  Nania said.

Senior exercise science major Bryan Gezon also enjoyed the show.

“It kept the audience entertained, engaged and laughing throughout the whole thing,” Gezon said.

“I Hate Hamlet” runs Feb. 22 and Feb. 33. Dinner begins at 6:45 p.m. and tickets are $22. There will be no ticket sales at the door, but students can get in during the student rush at 7:55 p.m.


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