Michael Urie Hamlet For The Ages at Shakespeare Theatre

Photo by Tony Powell
 Michael Urie
Michael Urie

The king of Denmark has been murdered and his son Hamlet comes home from school to deal with all the craziness of his family’s situation. Some think he is going mad, and this is a madcap play with plenty of humor. His school friends and family are all spying on each other as they try to figure out what is going on.  Casting Michael Urie as Hamlet may not have seemed the thing to do when Michael Kahn first did it but Urie has proven to be a Hamlet for the ages. Urie has been called a brilliant comedic actor and we all know him from his roles in ‘Ugly Betty’, his brilliant one-man show ‘Buyer and Cellar’ at the STC, and his recent rave reviews in New York for ‘Torch Song’.  But Kahn said he always wanted to do Hamlet with Urie since having him as a student at Julliard. When I first saw Urie in the role it was immediately evident it was an inspired choice. Just listening to him deliver the soliloquy “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!” you knew he was going to be brilliant in the role. 

Madeleine Potter and Michael Urie (Photo by: Scott Suchman) Madeleine Potter and Michael Urie

In his return to Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual FREE for ALL Urie has only gotten better in the role if that is possible. The play this time is being directed by Craig Baldwin, who was Michael Kahn’s assistant director in the original production, and he keeps a steady hand. 

Kahn has said about his original production “As I return to this play, I’ve found myself thinking about its complexities—public and private, political and familial—not in new ways, necessarily, but with an altered center of gravity in the world of 2018. First, we must remember that, beneath the diplomatic emissaries and complicated political plotting, Hamlet is at root an intimate family drama about a son deeply in mourning for his dead father and disturbed by his mother’s sudden remarriage. The family relationships that lie at the heart of Hamlet are crucial to the piece.”

So if you keep Kahn’s thoughts in mind when you go you will revel in this modern day Hamlet understanding it stays true to what Shakespeare wrote. From the security desk and computer screens in the opening scene to the smartphones the cast uses to text each other, it all works. If you have seen or read Hamlet you will get insights into the play you might not have had before; if you are new to Hamlet you will become a fan and understand how great a play it is. . For those who question the modern dress I would remind you when it was originally performed it was also in modern dress of that time. 

Joining Urie again is a star powered cast including Madeleine Potter (Gertrude), Hamlet’s mother, who shines with a commanding presence particularly in act two. Keith Baxter is back again as (Ghost/1st Player/Gravedigger), the oldest member of the cast by far, reminds you with every scene he is in why he has had such a great and long career.  Federico Rodriguez (Horatio) is a winning friend to Hamlet and Robert Joy (Polonius) again returns to STC after his brilliant performance as King Charles in Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III. He is equally brilliant here. In this production Paul Deo, Jr. is a totally believable Laertes. The entire company do themselves proud. 

Keith Baxter and Michael Urie (Photo by: Scott Suchman) Keith Baxter and Michael Urie

This production is again enhanced by all those incredibly talented people behind the scenes including scenic designer John Coyne, costume designer Jess Goldstein, lighting Yi Zhao, and sound and original music Broken Chord. Together they and the cast make this production of Hamlet a memorable night in the theater no one should miss.  

Each summer, with the help of a group of community-minded sponsors, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) presents two weeks of FREE performances of a Shakespearean classic. Hamlet will be at Sidney Harman Hall through July 21st.

Get your FREE tickets here and enter the lottery. The online lottery is open for entries between 12:01 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. the day PRIOR to the performance you are interested in attending. All entrants are notified via email of their ticket status about an hour after the lottery closes. Two tickets per person and all seating is general admission. Or you can just get in line. Every day STC will make at least 200 tickets available to the public in our ticket line at Sidney Harman Hall beginning two hours prior to curtain. Limit is two tickets per person and all seating is general admission. Remember to get there early! The line usually starts forming about four hours before curtain up. Either way you do it know you will have a great time in the theater.