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Shakespeare with a smirk

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Local theatre troupes give Shakespeare’s Hamlet a facelift

What: The Little Theatre’s Production of Hamlet

Where: Eagle Eye Theatre, June 28 & 29

Where: Millennium Place, July 4, 5 & 6

When: Doors at 7:30 p.m.; performances at 8 p.m.

The lords, the ladies, the comedy.

It’s all there in the cloaks and daggers of Hamlet. To go or not to go will not be the question.

The Whistler Players and Squamish’s Between Shifts Theatre have teamed up to present The Little Theatre’s Production of Hamlet in Squamish and Whistler.

The Little Theatre’s Production of Hamlet is an original play by American playwright Jean Battlo about a small-town theatre troupe mounting a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Kathryn Daniels of Between Shifts, who is directing the local production, promises drama with intrigue, and lots of jokes in between.

The local production has been dubbed "Mel’s Diner meets the Bard" by the crew. The setting is a small logging community that receives a $10,000 grant for a production of Hamlet. A self-centred director from New York City, Lauren Llewellyn McTeer (played by Susan Hutchinson, of Whistler Players), is hired to direct the play. McTeer takes the job only after much persuading by her agent (played by Michelle Bush). But owing to a community theatre-sized cast of four women and two men, McTeer is forced to re-write the entire script for Hamlet.

"We’re definitely providing comedic relief – a Cliff Notes to Hamlet," says Hutchinson.

Characters that keep The Little Theatre’s Production of Hamlet moving are Lodacia (Liz Gruber) and Betty-Lou (Marnie Fontaine), two "world-whacked waitresses," Mona, passionate about theatre and able to inspire others, J.S. Deskins (Skai Stevenson), the bad-tempered bank vice-president, Sam, Mona’s fiancé, and Hattie, the local restaurant owner.

Gillie Easdon is assistant director.

Interwoven into The Little Theatre’s Production of Hamlet are vignettes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the original play Hamlet returns home from war to find his father dead and his mother re-married to his uncle. A visit from his father’s ghost informs him he was murdered and Hamlet is forever destined to pain and madness from this vision.

"Hamlet is really quite a soap opera – a lot of people think the plays of Shakespeare are complicated and hard to understand," says Daniels. "They’re really about life and death, young love – revenge."

Daniels hopes once audiences see this play, they will head to the real thing at a venue like Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach festival.

The Little Theatre’s Production of Hamlet is suitable for anyone 12 years or older.

Hutchinson adds the Whistler players try and choose shows that have broad appeal and will fill seats, with the hope that they will attract more people interested in seeing theatre in Whistler.

"We have some amazing talent here in town, and community theatre is one way to showcase that talent and make it happen," says Hutchinson.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, available in Squamish through Billie’s Bouquet, Mostly Books and Sea to Sky Fine Meats.

Tickets for the Millennium Place show are available through the MY Place Box office at 604-935-8418 or through Ticketmaster.

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