Our second season, 2003-2004, opened on Halloween night with Hamlet and in the spring of ’04 with Cymbeline. Hamlet was our first performance at the Rock Island Housing Authority building. Basically a small, concrete floored room with windows on one wall and drywall on the other. It was just a half-block east of our first location and served us well for several shows.
Hamlet was directed by Cait Woolley with fight choreography by Aaron Sullivan.
Francisca, a soldier
Gertrude, Queen of Denmark
Barnarda, a soldier
Cornelius, an ambassador
Rosencrantz, a courtier
a nameless rustic
Horatio, a student
Marcellus, a soldier
Voltemand, an ambassador
Guildenstern, a courtier
a nameless sexton
Hamlet, King of Denmark
Claudius, King of Denmark
Polonius, councillor to the King
a nameless gentleman
a nameless priest
Laertes, son of Polonius
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Ophelia, daughter of Polonius
Osric, a foppish courtier
a nameless Norwegian captain
Andrew J. Koski
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway
1. This top slot goes to the haunting, even stunning “Hamlet,” a slick, intense show from The Prenzie Players, the scrappy upstart of a theater group that uses found space and non-“fourth wall” staging to fantastic advantage in its productions of classical works. With just two shows to show for their efforts so far, the Prenzie Players prove to be a group to watch.
Quad City Times review of Hamlet
This ”Hamlet” spooky, intense
Ruby Nancy | Wednesday, October 29, 2003
If your taste in Shakespearean drama runs to guys in robes and tights droning on and on you won’t like the Prenzie Players’ “Hamlet” at all.
Even if don’t like Shakespeare, this energetic and excellent production might just be what you need to see. Opening Friday, this slick, intense production plays up the spooky aspects of the famous drama without losing the script’s integrity.
J.C. Luxton’s go-for-broke performance in the title role is at the heart of the show (though he is also supported by a great cast performers who work with him rather than just serving as props behind a lead who hogs the stage), and this is no pouty, pensive, pretty-boy prince. Instead, the troubled young man is visibly marked by grief, and as his life and mind unravel further he shows us new layers of intensity, introspection, passion, hate and tragic emotional disintegration. It’s a different take on the role for sure, but it works incredibly well.
Though a cast of 10 plays all the roles, there are too many fine performances here to be able to adequately do them justice, so make the commitment to see this fresh approach to classical work for yourself. Denise Yoder is superb as an earthy, almost-simple Gertrude, and that Bryan Woods is also excellent as the brave, vulnerable Laertes. As Horatio, Tracy Skaggs does a beautiful job in a role that works with a wonderfully, subtly updated interpretation.
And Aaron Sullivan-Bennin, who plays both Claudius and the senior Hamlet, is absolutely stunning especially in the latter role, where his haunting performance is simply too good to miss.
Eclectic, even ground-breaking staging that and a funky mix of electrical lighting and stark modern costuming plus small humorous touches that let you know director Cait Woolley is intimately familiar with every single line combine to make this a must-see show.