Shakespeare’s Hamlet tells the story of revenge, heartache and tragedy. Its moody demeanor seems hard for an actor to pull off. But Bethany’s Theatre Department has succeeded, according to its audience members.
This rendition of the play was set in the 1920’s and the set had an industrial outlook on the play. According to Director Peter Bloedel, not only was the set creative, but the costumes as well. Hamlet’ stepfather, Claudius, had wine spilled on his clothes. To prevent stains, his vest was made out of a shower curtain.
For Bloedel, the show was a dream come true. He wanted to perform this play for years, but never had enough male actors. Other challenges faced the cast and crew as well.
“We ran out of work study money for the set, so we had to depend on volunteers. Since there was a bigger cast, it was also hard to work around everyone’s busy schedule,” said Bloedel.
Lines were also cut from the play, because Shakespeare’s version is lengthy. The show ended up running around three hours long. Bloedel also had to make the play understandable for the audience.
“One audience member told us that he had seen the play three times, one of which was at the Guthrie. Out of all of those, he could understand ours the best,” said sophomore Olivia Lee, who played Ophelia, Hamlet’s love interest.
“Ophelia has got to be my most favorite character I have ever played on stage. Her character is so dynamic, with so many conflicting feelings that drive her crazy,” said Lee.
Bethany alumnus Michael Lilienthal was cast as Hamlet. He is currently a student at Bethany Theological Seminary. It was the first time in 18 years that a seminary student had appeared on stage.
“He was a great Hamlet. Earlier he had asked me if he could audition, and it was great,” said Bloedel.
Audience members raved at the production and gave positive reviews. It was their feedback that kept the actors motivated.
“I liked it a lot. The treatment about the ghost was impressive. The technical lightning effects and the ghost being a physical person, who added to the creepiness, was great,” said senior and audience member Rachel Gleason.
“I am so pleased that everyone has worked so hard. It was an epic play,” said Bloedel.