2nd Story second summer show is "I Hate Hamlet", a comedy by Paul Rudnick. Andrew Rally seems to have it all, celebrity, a long running TV series, a beautiful, rich girlfriend, a devoted agent, a perfect New York apartment once owned by John Barrymore and a chance to play Hamlet in Central Park. There are a couple of glitches, Andrew's series has been canceled, his girlfriend is clinging to her virginity, and he has no desire to play Hamlet. During her initial visit to the apartment, the agent reminisces about her brief encounter with John Barrymore many years ago. This prompts the real estate agent to conduct a seance to summon his ghost. From the moment Barrymore returns, dressed in Shakespearean garb, Andrew's life is no longer his own. Add a flamboyant deal making hot shot producer from L.A. spouting a new TV deal for millions. Director Mark Peckham casts topnotch performers in these comic roles and obtains stunning performances from all of them, making this a must see show of the summer season.
Mark blocks the show beautifully especially the seance scene and the Barrymore scenes with Deirdre when he snaps his fingers for a lighting change. Terrific lighting by Marc Tiberiis II. Another outstanding moment is the awesome sword fighting scenes choreographed perfectly by Max Ponticelli and Rachel Nadeau at the end of the first act. The stunning two story set is by Trevor Elliott and the gorgeous costumes are by Ron Cesario. The flamboyant and larger than life John Barrymore is expertly portrayed by John Michael Richardson. He is always a joy to watch on stage and this role fits him to a tee. John Michael has many one liners that are hilarious. He also has serious moments when he encourages Andrew to seek the truth in his acting and not sell out as well as when he confesses he left the theater because of memory problems, inducing him to enter films. One of his funniest lines is that actors who portray Hamlet stuff their tights with socks, newspapers and sometimes anything they can find. Tom Bentley is splendid as Andrew Rally and wins the hearts of the audience with this appealing character. His verbal sparring with the other characters about taking on the role of Hamlet is very funny and he grows from insecure actor into an actor longing to improve his craft by having Barrymore tutor him. Tom's facial expressions and reactions to the crazy Barrymore antics are priceless,too. Both leads are fantastic in this show.
The rest of the cast live up to the high standards set by these two splendid actors. Erin Elliott, a beautiful red head is brilliant as Andrew's virginal girlfriend, Deirdre. Her high energy is wonderful to behold and she captures the exuberant nature of the girl especially in the last scene when she thinks Andrew's playing Hamlet makes him sexy and appealing. Erin is very ethereal in this role. Paula Faber is hilarious as the German agent who once dated Barrymore. She has a touching scene with him at the end of Act 2. Isabel O'Donnel is humorous as the wild and crazy psychic real estate agent who channels her mother to conduct the seance. Chuck Lafond is a hoot as the tres gay producer trying to entice Andrew to return to Hollywood for a three million dollar TV deal. His costumes are to die for especially the scarf around his neck. So for a laugh riot of a show, that will leave you rolling in the aisles, be sure to catch "I Hate Hamlet" at 2nd Story Theatre. Tell them Tony sent you.