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I Hate Hamlet Debuts at George School

Tuesday, October 20, 2009  
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George School’s fall production is I Hate Hamlet, a comedy by Paul Rudnick. It tells the story of Andrew Rally, a TV soap opera star, and his trepidation at playing Hamlet in Central Park. Andrew just happens to be renting the apartment once occupied by John Barrymore and through a series of circumstances, including a séance, accidentally conjures up the ghost of John Barrymore, whose portrayal of Hamlet was the greatest of his time. The play runs Friday and Saturday, November 6 and 7, at 8:00 p.m. There will be a preview performance on Thursday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m.

The George School cast includes Matthew Forrest '10 as Andrew Rally, Ross Cooper '11 as John Barrymore, Chloe Sonnenfeld '11 as Deidre, Emma Bardes '10 as Lillian, Kajsa Nelson '10 as Felicia, and Dylan Eshbaugh '11 as Gary. The two student directors are Justin Lee '10 and Jeremy Perez-Schrager '11 and the stage manager is Daniel Bolis '12.

Barrymore, who shows up on stage intoxicated and in full costume, obligingly coaches and coerces Andrew into “going on with the show.” In the process some of the most famous speeches from Hamlet are quoted. Add to the mix Andrew’s girlfriend Deidre, who fancies herself as one of Shakespeare’s great tragedian females, his agent Lillian, who once had a ‘fling’ with Barrymore in this very apartment, and Felicia, the New York real estate broker with stars in her eyes. Rounding out the six-character cast is Gary, Andrew’s writer-producer-director friend from Los Angeles, who thinks that the value of true art is what it can draw at auction.

I Hate Hamlet is the first of three plays selected for the George School theatrical season. The other two are West Side Story and The Tempest. “For the curriculum in Acting this year I chose to focus on language,” explained Theater Arts teacher Maureen West. “How are messages communicated? How does language affect the meaning of our message(s)? How do actors interpret characters through the author's words? Shakespeare, then, seemed a logical place to begin.”

West Side Story was selected to highlight the themes of hope and inclusiveness. The play is a natural fit with Shakespeare as it is primarily the story of Romeo & Juliet. The selection was received with great enthusiasm by the students when they heard about the choice -- almost sixty students auditioned with the hope to join the cast.

George School’s spring production will be Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Maureen and composer Richard M. Loatman are working together to develop original music for the production to tie the elements of music to the melodies of Shakespeare's language.