Shakespeare & Company Brings Back Audience Favorite "Hamlet"

Posted June 16, 2009

“This ‘Hamlet’ is an incisive, fast-moving production full of fresh line readings and directorial touches that light up Shakespeare’s lines like fireworks in the summer night.”

—Wall Street Journal

“[I]n antic action, showing his exasperation with the world in genuinely madcap style, [Asprey] is terrific fun to watch.”

—The New York Times

Shakespeare & Company brings back audience favorite
june 26—august 28

{Lenox, Mass}—The acclaimed production of Shakespeare’s masterwork that transfixed Berkshire audiences two summers ago—and last year went on a United States tour—is back. This smash production of Hamlet returns for a special run back where it all began, at Shakespeare & Company’s Founders’ Theatre, from June 26 through August 28. Press opening is June 27. Eleanor Holdridge returns to direct. To RSVP, or to arrange interviews, contact Publicity Director Elizabeth Aspenlieder at (413) 637-1199 ext 110 or

Founders’ Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. Performances in the evenings run at 7:30 p.m. and in the afternoons at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $60. For a complete listing of productions and schedules, to inquire about details of the 40% Berkshire Resident Discount, youth discounts and Rush Tix, or to receive a brochure, please visit the website at or call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353. For group visits, contact Group Sales Manager Victoria Vining at (413) 637-1199 ext. 132.

The original run of Hamlet in 2006 was met by packed houses and overwhelming critical acclaim, noted for its vigorous approach and electric crackle. A tour last September and October brought this fast-moving, visually stunning production to new audiences around the country. Now, the original creative team returns to present one more opportunity to catch this unmissable production.

The actors include a provocatively cast trio of family members and Company mainstays, who performed onstage in this production together for the first time. Longtime Company member Jason Asprey plays Hamlet; his mother and the Company’s Founding Artistic Director, Tina Packer, is Hamlet’s mother Queen Gertrude; and her husband (and Asprey’s stepfather), fellow Company Founder and Director of Training, Dennis Krausnick, is royal advisor Polonius. Nigel Gore—who in 2007 delighted audiences as Antony in Antony and Cleopatra and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and as the self-styled troubadour clown Lavache in last summer’s All’s Well That Ends Well—returns as the king Claudius, the role that first brought him to Shakespeare & Company.

Hamlet is considered by many to be Shakespeare’s masterpiece, and thus arguably the greatest English-language drama ever written. He probably wrote Hamlet in 1600, shortly after the death of his only son, Hamnet. The story follows the struggles of the young Prince of Denmark, who is racked with grief over the recent death of his father. Feeling betrayed by his mother, Queen Gertrude—who shortly after his father’s death married his uncle Claudius—Hamlet is thrown into a famously indecisive turmoil as he wrestles with the question of whether to kill Claudius, whom he believes killed his father. An ill-fated love affair with Ophelia and the ill-conceived murder of her father lead to a climactic duel at court with mortal consequences for all involved.

Holdridge says she was drawn to this play because of the way the title character plumbs, in quite dramatic fashion, the essential questions facing the thinking being. “What draws me to the play is Hamlet’s relentless and very active pursuit of self-knowledge and his rigorous exploration of what it is to be human. He is not content to live within the form of his given society or even the form of his own play,” she says.

The remarkably deep and versatile cast also includes Stephen Anderson (Laertes), Andrew Borthwick-Leslie (Guildenstern/Osric/Citizen), Johnny Lee Davenport (Ghost/Gravedigger/Player King), Elizabeth Raetz (Ophelia), Alexander Sovronsky (Rosencrantz/Ambassador), Enrico Spada (Fortinbras/Citizen), and Jake Waid (Horatio).

“Although Hamlet could be a terrible King, a bad boyfriend, a quixotic friend, a sullen and brooding son, he is also a man who wants to do what is right, to live up to the dictates of his father and his conscience and yet be true to himself. A very human being,” Holdridge adds.


ELEANOR HOLDRIDGE† tenth season (Director of Hamlet) S&Co: Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Lettice And Lovage, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, The Taming Of The Shrew. Off-Broadway productions include Steve & Idi by David Grimm at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Cycling Past The Matterhorn at the Clurman Theatre, The Imaginary Invalid, and Mary Stuart at the Pearl Theatre Company. Regional: The Crucible and Much Ado About Nothing (Perseverance Theatre); The Blond, The Brunette And The Vengeful Redhead, Noises Off and Art (Triad Stage); Julius Caesar and Macbeth (Milwaukee Shakespeare); The Two Gentlemen Of Verona (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis); Henry V (Shakespeare on the Sound); The Taming Of The Shrew and The Tempest (Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival); Betrayal (Portland Stage Company); The Lion In Winter (Northern Stage); and The Cenci, The Two Noble Kinsmen, Dido and Aeneas (Red Heel Theatre Company). In the past Eleanor has held positions as Artistic Director for the Red Heel Theatre Company, Resident Assistant Director at the Shakespeare Theatre and Resident Director at New Dramatists. She has directed and taught students at the Yale School of Drama, NYU’s graduate program and the Juilliard School, among others. She holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama.

At A Glance

Production: Hamlet
Theatre: Founders’ Theatre
Written by: William Shakespeare
Director: Eleanor Holdridge

Cast: Jason Asprey (Hamlet), Stephen Anderson (Laertes), Andrew Borthwick-Leslie (Guildenstern/Osric/Citizen), Johnny Lee Davenport (Ghost/Gravedigger/Player King), Nigel Gore (Claudius), Dennis Krausnick (Polonius), Tina Packer (Queen Gertrude), Elizabeth Raetz (Ophelia), Alexander Sovronsky (Rosencrantz/Ambassador), Enrico Spada (Fortinbras/Citizen), and Jake Waid (Horatio).

Set Designer: Edward Check
Lighting designer: Les Dickert
Costume Designer: Jessica Ford
composer & Sound Designer: Scott Killian
Assistant lighting designer: Chris Thielking
text coaches: Malcolm and Elizabeth Ingram
fight choreographer: Kevin G. Coleman
fight captain: Alexander Sovronsky

Dates: Preview: June 26
Opens: June 27
Closes: August 28
tickets: $15-$60

Phone: (413) 637-3353

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