Arts and Entertainment

BCT opens season with story of hilarious angst

Ryan Demerick playing Andrew Rally as he tries to show off for the ghost of John Barrymore (Charlie Wise) in BCT’s production of “I Hate Hamlet.” - Courtesy photo
Ryan Demerick playing Andrew Rally as he tries to show off for the ghost of John Barrymore (Charlie Wise) in BCT’s production of “I Hate Hamlet.”
— image credit: Courtesy photo

There are few better ways to open a theatrical season than with a spiteful ode to Mr. Theatre himself, William Shakespeare, shouting at the top of the marquee “I Hate Hamlet” while the lead character curses the genius’ work because of its prestige and difficulty.

Make that denunciation too self-conciously funny to be considered an insult, add in the boisterous animation of Ryan Demerick in the lead role of TV hunk Andrew Rally and Charlie Wise as the intoxicated ghost of John Barrymore, and I’m sold.

“I Hate Hamlet” a play that’s been described as “a delightfully droll comedy” penned by Paul Rudnick opened BCT’s new season last night, on the boards at 599 Lebo Boulevard, in Bremerton. Tickets are $10 general, $9 seniors/students, $7 youth.

“It’s got romance and comedy, excitement and adventure ...” the director, Siskin listed. “It’s got a magic to it, and a little bit of drama. But mainly it’s a lot of humor.”

It’s hard not too laugh at a professional actor who’s been on TV and commercials a hundred times but is now sniveling the face of one of the most coveted and hated roles in theater, Hamlet.

Then the ghost of John Barrymore, probably best known these days as Drew Barrymore’s grandpa, but considered by many to be the greatest actor of his time, arrives intoxicated in full “Hamlet” garb when Rally moves into an old gothic apartment in New York City that once belonged to the famous thespian. Barrymore starts whipping the young TV star into shape like a cynical old gym teacher by pressing his buttons, and at the same time, literally pushing him into the role.

It even comes to fisticuffs, or swordicuffs rather, when Barrymore challenges Rally to a duel in an attempt to get him in the Shakespearian spirit.

“Nobody sits for too long, this play moves ... I mean it moves,” Siskin said, noting the climax of the inner-apartment sword fight. “Hopefully, that will leave them thinking, ‘Whoa! I’m coming back for some more of that.’”

The BCT cast invited out professional fencing instructor Paul Ray to put in a good chunk of a day’s rehearsal on that sword fight, but all clinking metal aside, the audience will be in for an exiting ride, start to finish.

The play travels through the gamut of emotions, Siskin said. From glee to fear, sadness to joy and onto nostalgia and suspense, it’s all swirling around in a big cauldron of hundreds of years of behind-the-scenes tension felt by actors now thrust in the spotlight for the audience’s amusement.

“It represents a love of theater, a love of acting and a love of Shakespeare,” Siskin summed up the production. “Hopefully, when the audience leaves, they’ll have a greater appreciation of Shakespeare, and what actors go through.”

The show includes snippets of the “Speak the Speech scene” from “Macbeth” as well as other notable passages from “Romeo and Juliet,” adding Shakespearian spice, while aiming to whet the appetites of those unfamiliar with the Bard.

And if there were ever a cast to introduce you to Shakespeare in an enjoyable setting, this would be it, Siskin said.

“I’ve got one of the best casts I’ve assembled in years ... pound for pound they are all great actors,” he said, noting this is about his 45th production in the director’s chair. “They’ve made my job so easy.”

In addition to the central figures of Wise and Demerick as Barrymore and Rally, Krista Curry will be playing the role of Rally’s virtuous virgin girlfriend Deirdre McDavey.

James Mange will play the crass and calculating Gary Peter Lefkowitz while Deborah Hopper and Katrina Baxter Hodiak, daughter of the illustrious Anne Baxter and John Hodiak, will play Rally’s agent Lillian Troy and girlfriend Felicia Dantine.

“I Hate Hamlet” premiered last night at the Bremerton Community Theatre, 599 Lebo Blvd. in Bremerton. The show will run at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 7. Tickets are $10 general, $9 seniors/students, $7 youth 12 and under. Info: www.bremertoncommunitytheatre.org or call (360) 373-5152.

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