Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
I Hate Hamlet
Also see Fred's review of Queen of Basel
At the urging of his girlfriend Deirdre (amusingly played by Elena Ramos Pascullo), Andrew moves into the apartment that once belonged to John Barrymore. Deirdre believes this will help Andrew to get inspired to star in Hamlet. As it turns out, the ghost of John Barrymore appears almost immediately, though he is not visible to all of the characters. Barrymore is portrayed magnificently by Dan O'Driscoll, who brings genuine charisma and star power to the role. The relationship between Andrew and Barrymore is extremely funny and the two actors play off each other very well. The rest of the cast is just as game and more than up to the comic antics in the show.
As Felicia, the real estate agent who gets Andrew the apartment, Liliane Klein is a real scream and she is perfectly matched by the uproarious Robert Anthony Jones, who plays Andrew's friend Gary. Gary is against Andrew doing theater in New York and, instead, tries to lure him back to California to star in a lucrative television pilot. Also in the company is the lovely Jo Anne Parady as Andrew's agent Lillian, who once had a fling with John Barrymore. As portrayed by these three expert actors, the supporting parts feel almost larger than life and, Jones in particular nearly steals the show in his hysterical playing of the boisterous Gary.
Still, the two leads more than hold their own and one really comes to root for Andrew to succeed as Hamlet, with the assistance of Barrymore. Without giving away more of the plot, I'll say that there are a lot of ups and downs, but the production is enjoyable from beginning to end. Chief credit for this must go to the excellent director Kevin Connors, whose pacing of the show is ideal. Connors also works well with his designers, with an attractive, appropriately designed set by Sean Sanford and terrific costumes by Diane Vanderkroef that help to shape each character's personality. The lighting design by RJ Romeo is mysterious and incisive, and there is crystal clear sound design by Will Atkins.
I Hate Hamlet at Music Theatre of Connecticut is a real lark and, though I had seen this play before, the production at Music Theatre of Connecticut is so fresh and surprising that everything about the show and its plot seemed almost new to me. This show is lighter than air and everyone involved with the production makes sure that it stays aloft. It's a good deal of fun and a grand night out at the theater.
I Hate Hamlet runs through February 19, 2023, at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Ave., Norwalk CT. For tickets and information, please visit www.musictheatreofct.com.