‘I Hate Hamlet’ at Theatre Jacksonville: Two Hours of Fast-Paced Comedy

Photos by Maya Adkins

A DUAL CRITICS THEATRE JACKSONVILLE REVIEW

I Hate Hamlet, Theatre Jacksonville, Photo by Maya Adkins
Photos by Maya Adkins

Theatre Jacksonville opened I Hate Hamlet on April 19th, 2019. This classic comedy by Paul Rudnick runs through Sunday, May 6th. Theatre Jacksonville is located at 2032 San Marco Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit theatrejax.com for additional information or call 904-396-4425 for reservations.

I Hate Hamlet, which opened on Broadway in 1991, is a captivating comedy and a popular choice for community stages. The story provides a look at the struggles of contemporary thespians encountering the challenges of portraying Shakespeare’s revered works.

TJ’s production has an outstanding cast of talented actors, which includes both veterans of Jacksonville stages, and talented newcomers.

Heading up the show is Rich Pintello as Andrew Rally, the would-be Hamlet. While he has been successful as a television series actor based in Hollywood, his agent has persuaded him to agree to appear as Hamlet at Shakespeare in the Park in New York City. Pintello has been in a number of plays at various local theatres during the past few years.

I Hate Hamlet, Theatre Jacksonville, Photo by Maya Adkins

The show opens as Andrew is moving into a rented apartment. And not just any apartment: The décor is Medieval Gothic and John Barrymore, famous for his portrayal of Hamlet, once lived here. As did playwright Rudnick; the sojourn reportedly provided the inspiration for his script.    

Andrew is accompanied by Felicia (Tracy Anne Olin), the real estate agent for this period-piece dwelling. Olin’s name has almost always appeared in each of TJ’s programs over the years as a costume designer, director, or actor. In Hamlet she is very funny as an animated woman with a typical New York accent who loves holding séances to communicate with her deceased mother.

I Hate Hamlet, Theatre Jacksonville, Photo by Maya Adkins

Two other characters soon make their way to Andrew’s apartment. Abigail Hunger appears as Deirdre, his attractive live-in virginal girlfriend, who is somewhat flighty. Gloria Ware, hilarious with a German accent, appears as Lillian, Andrew’s theatre agent. After she claims that she and Barrymore had an affair many years ago, Felicia suggests a séance which brings the sudden materialization of Barrymore’s ghost – dressed as Hamlet.

Jason Vaughn in his Jacksonville debut is a marvelous Hamlet, who even looks like the legendary Barrymore. He has an impressive resume, which includes Shakespearean roles at the Globe in London and the Botanics in Glasgow. Barrymore’s role now is to coach Andrew, which includes impressive sword play. The interactions between the two men and the three women often require split-second timing.  

I Hate Hamlet, Theatre Jacksonville, Photo by Maya Adkins

Gary, portrayed by Jose DeGracia in his TJ debut, is a friend of Andrew who hopes to persuade him to return to Los Angeles as the lead in a new television series. DeGracia has been a lifelong entertainer, with talents related to wresting, theatre, and film.

The production was directed by William E.P. Davis, who made an impressive directing debut at Theatre Jacksonville with Wolf Hall. He has numerous acting credits, and received his MFA in Directing from East 15 School of Acting in London.

I Hate Hamlet, Theatre Jacksonville, Photo by Maya Adkins

The set by Tim Watson, TJ’s Technical/Scenic Designer, is marvelous and looks like the interior of a Danish castle.

Two members of the production team are new to TJ. Hallie Dufresne was the Costume Designer; she has an BFA from Florida State in Costume Design/Technology and extensive experience in the field. Elizabeth Flint, who brings skills learned in past college productions, was the Stage Manager.

I Hate Hamlet is two hours of fast-paced comedy. We laughed a lot. Recommended!

Additional Production Team members included Michelle Kindy (Production Manager), Jonathan Scherf (Graphic Design), Jason Vaughn (Fight Choreographer), Savannah LeNoble & Lauren VonderMuehll (Assistant Stage Managers), Audie Gibson & John Blake (Light Board Operators), and Nancy McMillan-Wilson (Sound Board Operator).  

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.
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