“Hamlet,” the capstone production of Heartwood Theater’s first 20 seasons, opens July 28 with six evening performances ending Aug. 5. For those who love Shakespeare, for those who have never seen Shakespeare, for those new to Heartwood, and longstanding patrons – this show is a gem, a must see for Midcoast summer theater.
Presented in the black-box Poe Theater, with seating very close to the stage, audience members will thrill to the action, as this committed cast delivers one of William Shakespeare’s most famous and revered plays.
Costumes are modern, compelling themes of shared humanity transcend all time: love, betrayal, grief, friendship and revenge. Purposeful technical elements - lighting, soundscape, projections, clean and sophisticated set - not only support the actors and actions but elevate one’s sense of these compelling themes, to a higher level.
In typical Heartwood fashion, the cast is a hybrid of visiting, professional actors and trained Midcoast actors. Thomas Daniels from New York plays the lead role as Hamlet, with Joseph Cote of Camden, in the eerie role of the deceased king. Nanette Fraser and Joe Lugosch, recently seen in Heartwood’s two-person cast of “Talley’s Folly,” pair up once more as Queen Gertrude and King Claudius. “Regular” summertime visiting New York actor Ray Huth plays Laertes, Ophelia is portrayed by Honora Boothby of Bremen, while their father, Polonius is acted by Tim Cunningham (also in the role of Gravedigger). Hamlet’s closest friend, Horatio, is played by Nick Miaoulis. Filling out this competent cast are Emily Sue Barker, Ben Schwink, Elias Bassett and Harrison Pierpan.
Given its 400-year stage history, “Hamlet” – four hours if performed without cuts (Heartwood's version is just over 2 hours) - has been presented in countless ways, with countless spins and agendas overlaying this great work. Heartwood’s version strives to represent Shakespeare’s work in the context of the culture in which he was writing. Modern costumes are more relatable to audience than traditional period costumes (let’s face it, the tights can be distracting), allowing audiences to concentrate on the words, their rhythmic pattern, their wit and their passion.
The fighting, choreographed and directed by Stephen Shore is sensational. Wielding epee blades, commonly used for fencing, the final fight scene between Laertes (Huth) and Hamlet (Daniels) will have the front row audience wincing in their seats.
Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Poe Theater at Lincoln Academy on July 28 & 29, Aug. 2 – 5. Material is suitable for mature middle school students and older; no babies or young children admitted. Ticket sales are on the rise, and Heartwood performances can sell out quickly. Adult tickets are $30. Reservations strongly recommended: firstname.lastname@example.org or 563-1373. Full details at www.heartwoodtheater.org.
“Hamlet” is made possible, in part, by a generous grant from the Maine Community Foundation. Season Sponsors Bath Savings Institution and Chesterfield Associates, Inc. support all programming; show sponsors Moody’s Diner and The Kingfisher and the Queen are on board supporting Hamlet. Peapod Jewelry and First National Wealth Management sponsor student tickets, ensuring all students through college level can attend theater with $5 tickets.