Theater Review: New Court begins season with I Hate Hamlet

Hamlet encounters the ghost of his father in Shakespeare’s tragedy. In I Hate Hamlet, the spirit of John Barrymore appears to catch a young actor for his first role in theater. Andrew Rally, played by Jackson Doran, has recently moved into a Manhattan apartment once occupied by Barrymore. The soap opera star is determined to play Hamlet on the stage of Shakespeare in the Park, but qualms arise.

As Barrymore, Josh Burton recreates the character perfectly. Clad in Hamlet’s costume complete with tights, he blusters, encourages, and is always looking for a drink. Rally’s girlfriend, Deirdre, an aspiring actress, is played by Libby Amato. The consummation of their relationship is an ongoing theme.

The supporting cast, Felicia Dantine, a Manhattan real estate broker (Coleen Burns), Lillian Troy, the Germanic Broadway agent (Carolyn Cadigan), and Gary, the Hollywood director (Paul Carbonell), all add authenticity to the world of show business. Burns, a long-time favorite at New Court, uses every bit of her comedic talent. Cadigan is elegance personified, and her memories of a one-time encounter with Barrymore make us realize all is not lost as we age. Carbonell, a recent graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison, is hilarious as the manipulative L.A. kingpin. Some of his lines seem to come directly from Entourage.

Amy Sarno, associate professor of theater arts at Beloit College, deftly directs her talented cast. The set allows her to take the actors from one level to the next, creating an interesting sense of movement. The set changes in Act II to a replication of Barrymore’s original apartment. Classic furniture and an Oriental rug display Rally’s acceptance of Barrymore’s influence. He has become a Shakespearean actor.

Genny Bonavia’s costumes are gorgeous. A free-lance designer, she designs for every theater in the area. Burton, the executive director of New Court Theatre, has brought together some top-notch actors and a gifted technical staff. The quality of his productions improve with every season.

I Hate Hamlet runs through June 25. Opening July 6 and running through July 22 is Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues. The final show of the summer, I Do! I Do!, directed by Coleen Burns, runs from July 27 to Aug. 12.

The short drive to Beloit, Wis., is well worth the trip. The New Court Theatre is at 520 E. Grand Ave. on the Beloit College campus. Tickets may be obtained by calling (608) 368-3060 or online at

Summer theater enriches us all. My next planned excursion is to Timber Lake.

From the June 21-27, 2006, issue

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