(Posted 7:30 a.m., March 2)
Players continue to set the gold standard with latest production of 'Hamlet'
By Fred Sherwin
Houlston plays the lead role in the St. Peter Players production of 'Hamlet'
. Fred Sherwin/Photo
The St. Peter
Player's have become well known over the past few years for delivering a
series of impressive musicals including "West Side Story" in 2003
and "Les Miserables" in 2004.
year they put on a stunning performance of Gilbert & Sullivan's famous
Broadway production "Pirates of Penzance". The problem with staging
musicals, however, is that you end up having to omit talented actors who
may not be blessed with the most talented voices.
This year the
St. Peter Players guiding force, drama teacher Bernie Leger, decided to
go in a different direction by producing a musical non-musical of sorts
to give students who can't sing a chance to share the limelight.
The result is
a fresh take on Shakespeare's classic "Hamlet", complete with
a live soundtrack that includes several pieces sung off stage by Keena Eloise
and the incomparable Katrina Watters, accompanied on piano by Emilie Gauthier
who also provided most of the sound effects.
One of the challenges
in putting on "Hamlet", or almost any other play written by Shakespeare,
is that most of the audience already knows the ending as well as most of
the lines, having had the play drummed into their heads during English literature
class back in high school.
The trick is
in the acting and how the lines are delivered. Shakespeare is all about
the drama, and the St. Peter Player's production of "Hamlet" delivers
drama in spades.
is superb as King Claudius, as is Alicia Bacile in the role of Ophelia,
but the strongest performance of the night was delivered by Shane Houlston
in the lead role of Hamlet. One of the neat things for me, having gone to
successive St. Peter Player productions over the years, is the ability to
witness firsthand the develop.m.ent of the student players into accomplished
actors from year to year.
Claudius, played by Jason Lajoie, asks Rozencrantz and Guildenstern, played
by Sarah Doyle and Sarah MacDonald, to keep an eye on Hamlet. Fred Sherwin/Photo
Wednesday night's performance, I went back to see what I had written about
Houlston in my review of "Pirates of Penzance" in which he played
the Sergeant. As it turned out, I failed to even mention his name which
tells me that his performance didn't particularly stand out. Not so in this
year's play. Hamlet is a wonderful production and Houlston is the star.
But then again,
that's the beauty of the St. Peter Players productions. Bacile played Police
Officer #5 in "Pirates" last year. In "Hamlet" she's
brilliant as Ophelia. Lajoie auditioned for the last two St. Peter Players
productions without success before finally landing the role of King Claudius
in this year's play. Thank goodness for perseverance.
to the play, Greg Lowe provided a modem of comic relief as Ophelia's father
Polonius. Although I found his performance on opening night even more over
the top than is normally called for in the role, he did an admirable job.
My only criticism, and it's a minor one, is that he didn't try to engage
the audience more with his sly asides.
Of the supporting
roles, my favourite by far was the performance of Sarah MacDonald as Guildenstern.
The casting of Guildenstern and Rozencrantz, played by Sarah Doyle, as two
woman rather than two men was sheer brilliance.
Even though I
was sitting near the back of the room, I could easily make out MacDonald's
hilarious facial expressions and body language, especially when the two
women were flirting with several of the male leads at different points in
of note were turned in by St. Peter Players veteran Mike Molinski who played
Ophelia's brother Laertes; Elyse Gagne as Hamlet's mother Queen Gertrude;
and Ben Robinson as Horatio.
of the highlights of the St. Peter Players first non-musical play was the
singing of Katrina Watters, who played the lead role of Mabel in last year's
production of "Pirates", and her duet partner Keena Eloise. The
two young women shared the vocal duties in relative anonymity and they were
nothing short of brilliant. Watters' operatic style was especially well
suited to the song choices. Accompanying them both on piano was Emilie Gauthier
who set the tone throughout the play with her timely sound effects.
cast included Lydia Barrett, Danny Bettencourt, Erin Ciona, Mary Doyle,
Alex Dupuis, Amber Forgie, Christina Franc, Sean Goetz, Jessyca Lalumiere,
Nicole Perera, Bryan Ladds, Robert Guenette and Ryan Buffone as the Ghost
of Hamlet's father.
25-member cast were co-producers Carla Boyle and Kathy Clark; stage manager
Amanda Ross; lighting technician William Knutson; creative consultants Melody
Lavictoire and Wade Muir; sound technician Tony Mungham; set decorator Rachel
Struthers; teacher supervisors Shannon Capstick and Scott Searle; stage
hands Clare Knutson and Sean Payton-Stewart; and prop co-ordinators Mya
Madere and Athena Tzivanopoulus.
In the world
of high school drama productions, the St. Peter Players are the gold standard
with their attention to detail, terrific sound, and beautiful costumes which
this year were rented from the Stratford Festival.
Kudos to the
cast and crew of "Hamlet" for putting on yet another highly entertaining
production. The play continues today and tomorrow with three more performances
including a special matinee performance on Saturday at 2 p.m. Curtain time
for the evening performances is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each available
at the door.
played by Ben Robinson, holds a dying Hamlet in his arms in the final scene
of the St. Peter Players production of 'Hamlet' on today and tomorrow at
St. Peter High School. Fred Sherwin/Photo
was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
to Front Page