Saturday, April 21, 2018
Stage

Review: Richey Suncoast’s I Hate Hamlet worth shouting about

NEW PORT RICHEY — Many years ago I lived near New Orleans, and one of my favorite pastimes was to put my son in his stroller and saunter up and down the streets of the Vieux Carre.

But Bourbon Street in the late afternoon was our favorite. Back then, barkers in front of nearly every strip joint did their best to lure customers inside.

"Prettiest girls, longest legs, coldest beer," they would cry out. The whole scene felt lively and exciting.

As I exited the Richey Suncoast Theatre Friday night after seeing the comedy I Hate Hamlet, I briefly considered becoming a barker, standing on the street corner coaxing people to come in and buy a ticket. Indeed, the theater’s production of I Hate Hamlet is worth shouting about.

Playwright Paul Rednick’s script is filled with witticisms and the premise and plot are clever, but it is the delivery that counts. Director Rich Aront’s extraordinary cast earns an A+ across the board.

Confident, assured, cool and expertly guided, the six players never miss a beat nor swallow a line. Jason Hoolihan is marvelous as television soap opera star Andrew Rally.

"L.A. Medical, TV Guide, my face at every supermarket checkout in America, right next to the gum," he shouts. But his series has been canceled, so he comes to 1990s New York City to make himself more marketable.

His agent, Lillian Troy (an adorable Anne Lakey), is a German transplant with a bad smoker’s cough, and has gotten him the lead as Hamlet for Shakespeare in the Park. He’s accepted, mainly to impress his sexually reluctant girlfriend Deirdre (Blake Parker), a 29-year-old virgin he yearns to bed.

He’s met by rental agent Felicia Dantine, done with an outrageously exaggerated Bronx accent by Penni Willen, whose over-the-top physical humor sets a delightful tone for the whole production.

Penni moonlights as a psychic medium and sets about calling forth the previous tenant of Andrew’s temporary apartment, the late John Barrymore, considered by many the definitive Hamlet.

Penni thinks she’s failed, and everyone but Andrew leaves. Then appears the ghost of Barrymore, played with finesse by Miguel Rodriguez, considered one of the top actors in the Tampa Bay region. He proves he deserves such accolades in this role. Rodriguez is mesmerizing. Paired with Hoolihan, their scenes are something to savor. These fellows are a dream team.

Barrymore is there to fulfill a pledge every famous Hamlet makes — to coach his possible successor to greatness so that he, the teacher, can finally rest in peace. The only thing is, Andrew has changed his mind and doesn’t want to go on stage.

He’s encouraged to defect to TV by his L.A. friend and actor, Ariana Lefkowitz (Natalie Pozdol-Arshinkoff), who exhorts him with machine-gun rapidity to forget the New York stage and come back to California to make millions and be adored.

To stay or not to stay; that is the question for Andrew. How it works out is fun and funny, but with a serious message about life, love and — what else? — acting.

The show is two hours long, including intermission, but it’s the most entertaining two hours you could spend.

Comments
The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Florida Orchestra puts another exclamation point on its 50th season with Verdi’s Requiem, this weekend’s concert series, a major presentation of an iconic work. Composed by Giuseppe Verdi, Requiem debuted in 1874 but took on a new layer of signif...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

ST. PETERSBURG — In the coming season, Freefall Theatre is rolling out a world premiere, a different take on Christmas, a sharp comedy and a recent work by Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage. The theme for the 2018-2019 season, "A Brighter Tomorrow," color...
Published: 04/19/18
Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

HEAD WAITRESS: DESI OAKLEYThe blue collar mother who drives the plot of Waitress never thought she could win a pie-making contest, let alone start a business."She doesn’t even have the capacity to understand that she could do this," said Desi Oakley,...
Published: 04/18/18
American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

ST. PETERSBURG ­— Think early evening, daylight saving version. The earth turning away, light fading in Demens Landing Park — everywhere except the stage, which is trying its best to resurrect midday. "It looks like New York City at nigh...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

BROOKSVILLE — How about a story about two knights who gain their knighthood, lose it, then gain it back, only to lose it again?That was the concept Kyle Marra pitched nearly three years ago to Randi Olsen, founder and creative director for the Live O...
Published: 04/17/18
Bilingual ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ shines a light on brutal regime

Bilingual ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ shines a light on brutal regime

TAMPA — Tampa made its cigars with indispensable help from Cuban immigrants. Today, 22 percent of the population is of Hispanic origin, as defined by the U.S. Census. The Tampa Bay area has increasingly and proudly defined itself as a thriving perfor...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Review: ‘I’ll Be Back’ at Stage West mixes creepy with shocking

Review: ‘I’ll Be Back’ at Stage West mixes creepy with shocking

The murder mystery/thriller I’ll Be Back Before Midnight is loaded with potential. Playwright Peter Colley’s spooky, sometimes creepy, script has lots of surprises, scary moments and a few jokes to break the tension.And the production at Stage West C...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Review: ‘Menopause the Musical’ brings the heat to Show Palace in Hudson

For years, Show Palace Dinner Theatre patrons have begged owners Vicki and Tommy Marasciullo to bring Menopause the Musical to their Hudson venue. To be sure, the longtime showbiz couple wanted to, and the 400+ sold-out crowd opening night, followed ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Monthly dessert theatre opens at CARES

Monthly dessert theatre opens at CARES

NEW PORT RICHEY — A collaborative agreement between CARES (Community Aging and Retirement Services) and local entertainer Jimmy Ferraro will bring Jimmy Ferraro’s Dessert Theatre, a series of monthly variety shows, to the CARES Elfers Center stage, 4...
Published: 04/16/18
New opera by Anton Coppola, 101, highlights Opera Tampa’s 2018-2019 season

New opera by Anton Coppola, 101, highlights Opera Tampa’s 2018-2019 season

TAMPA — Last year’s lavish 100th birthday party for composer and conductor Anton Coppola might have seemed like the capstone of a long career in opera. Turns out that Opera Tampa’s co-founder was not finished. The maestro’s latest opera, Lady Swanwhi...
Published: 04/14/18