MARSHALL - Taking on one of Shakespeare's more recognizable and lengthy shows has been a challenge for the actors in the upcoming production of the Marshall Area Stage Company.
MASC is presenting its Shakespeare in the Park production "Hamlet" at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Aug. 17-18 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, in the Liberty Park bandshell in Marshall. The show is being directed by Marcie Anderson.
Josh Johnson, who portrays the title character, said he was kind of worried about doing both combat choreography for the show and handling the role itself, as it's kind of a time commitment.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Mike Olivigni, Alex Castro, Haley Jacobsen and Josh Johnson rehearse a scene from the upcoming Shakespeare in the Park production of “Hamlet”?by the Marshall Area Stage Company. The show will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Liberty Park bandshell in Marshall.
"It is extremely long, very complex and there are a lot of things people expect out of a well-known show like 'Hamlet,'" Johnson said.
"Hamlet" is one of Shakespeare's most quotable show, said Jim Radloff, who plays Laertes. There's several famous speeches and quotes from "Hamlet," Johnson said, including "To be or not to be, that is the question," "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" and "Good night sweet prince." If you screw those lines up, an audience can be disappointed because that's what it expects, Johnson added, and you have to balance between what an audience wants and needs and performing the show in a different way.
"(The challenge) is the nature of it being Shakespeare's most famous play," Johnson said.
"Hamlet" is a favorite of Alex Castro, who plays several roles in the show. He's one of several actors who is new to MASC's Shakespeare in the Park productions.
"There is just so much to it," Castro said. "It is psychological, emotional. There's just a million layers there." He said that it's one of Shakespeare's plays that he's read the most.
Radloff said his character Laertes kind of mirrors Hamlet in a way.
"I realize I'm pretty much doing the same thing," Radloff said about his character. Like Hamlet, Laertes is also avenging the death of his father.
Not only are there many monologues and famous lines to remember, there is a little combat toward the end between Hamlet and Laertes. Johnson and Radloff have been carefully choreographing the scene so neither of them get injured. Johnson said combat with weapons, such as swords, can be compared a lot to dancing as you have to go over the steps many times, start slowly and pick up speed when everyone is comfortable with it.
"It's just a lot of trusting your partner, that they will not hurt you if you don't hurt them," Johnson said.
Radloff said he's been looking forward to doing combat in a Shakespeare show.
"It's something I've wanted to do for a really long time," he said. Combat has been used in MASC's "Macbeth"?and "As You Like It,"?he said."The combat is the one thing I started liking about theater, but I never get a chance to do it."