The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, September 07, 2000, Page 8, Image 8

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    David Oasen/ON
Mathew Works, Pseudolus, struggles to tactfully explain to Carrie Moritz, Panacea, why she is not up to hb standards during a rehearsal of'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way
to the Forum,” opening Thursday at the Star Gty Dinner Theatre. Throughout the play Works, a slave, tries to con hb way to freedom.
If you’re tired of dinner then a movie on every date, an alternative
may be to simply combine food and entertainment at the Star City
Dinner Theatre.
Tonight, the theater kicks off its third season with “A Funny Thing
Happened on the Way to the Forum.”
Chris Rook, the assistant manager of the dinner theater, said the
show was about a slave named Pseudolus who wanted to be free.
“It’s a musical comedy set in ancient Rome,” she said.
Adrienne Walker, a trained opera singer and Star City Dinner
Theatre actress, said the show was a great musical.
“Anybody’s going to like it. It's hilarious and for all ages,” she said.
The actors’ names describe the characters perfectly, Walker said.
“My character's name is Domina because I am the dominant one,
and there is also a Hysteria who is, of course, hysterical,” she said.
Those who want to attend this performance can expect an intimate,
cozy atmosphere, Rook said.
“It has a nice, casual setting,” she said. “We want to make people feel
Comfortable it is in a completely renovated, 100-year-old building.
“It’s an intimate, small theater,” Walker said, “Nobody would feel
uncomfortable there. It’s not intimidating at all.”
Perhaps the theater is so intimate because unlike other theaters, the
stage is very close - about two to three feet away from the tables.
Walker said another great aspect of the theater was that the dinner
was completely done before the show started.
“That’s nice because there’s less noise, and there isn’t anybody eat
ing in front of viewers who came just for the show,” she said.
For those wishing to attend the production tonight, or any show this
year, tickets can be ordered in advance to insure entrance.
The cost for the show and dinner is $25 or $ 13 for just the show.
“It’s a price that you can’t beat for
great food and great entertainment,”
Rook said.
Season tickets are $170 for din
ners and the shows or $85 for just the
shows. Most productions are shown
Thursday through Saturday nights
with Sunday matinees.
To put on the productions, the
theater uses and needs local actors.
To get an audition, you just need
to call.
Walker said if anyone was con
sidering auditioning for a Star City
production, they simply needed to
call up the theater and set up a time
for a 10 to 15 minute audition.
“They’re probably doing audi
tions next week for upcoming
shows,” Walker said.
“We’ve used quite a few UNL stu
dents in our productions,” Rook said.
Rook also said the theater would be collaborating with the
University’s music department for the musical, “Once Upon a
Other major productions for the upcoming year include “My Fair
Lady,” "Guys and Dolls” and “It’s a Wonderful Life."
For anyone interested in ordering tickets or auditioning for a part,
contact the 24-hour box office at 477-8277, or stop at 8th and Q streets in
the Haymarket
Performance Preview
A Funny Thing
Happened on the
[Way to the Forum
Star City
Dinner Theatt
803 Q St.
14 17,21 24
Theater’s cozy setting the perfect
spot for dining and entertainment
Modern-day Hamlet takes Shakespeare to another level
The troubled prince of Denmark Corp. wears a
knit cap around New York City, totes a video camera
and practices his biggest speeches in his head
And then he videotapes them. And then, they
serve as motivation, the next best thing to the action
he needs to revenge his father.
And we know well just how he will fail
The newest version of “Hamlet,” playing the next
two weekends at the Mary Riepma Ross Theater, is a
genuine adaptation of the material if there ever was
one. It is a revelation, as director/writer Michael
Almereyda took Shakespeare's most complex play
and found its modem-day equivalent in the Big Apple.
Almereyda cast an actor who fit the role, Ethan
Hawke. Hawke finally discovers a role that fits his
nearly- incoherent mumbling.
Of the three most recent adaptations, Mel
Gibson's version of “Hamlet” was the most entertain
ing, Kenneth Branagh’s four-hour beast is faithful to
the last word, and this version is the most vital, the
finest interpretation of the material outside of its nat
ural borders of castles, swords and medieval times.
While it’s a slight remake of an earlier version enti
tled “Hamlet Goes to Business,” a little-known Finnish
film, “Hamlet” takes those ideas much further and,
more importantly, spins the character of Hamlet in an
entirely different direction.
Gone is the jocular, angry Danish prince of
Gibson, and the preening, plotting persona of
Branagh. In its place is Hawke, a film student with
enough sadness for three tragedies, haunted by his
own video incarnation.
There are two Hamlets, actually: the resident of
Hawke’s mind, spoken in voice overs and video clips,
and Hawke himself, who actually speaks fewer lines
than a few other characters.
Upon learning of his father’s death, Hamlet
returns just in time to see Claudius (Kyle Madachlan)
assume the reigns of Denmark Corp., a multimedia
giant. At his side
is Gerturde
(Diane Venora),
the hasty mother.
And the story
drives from there,
though not in the
specific detail of
the play.
Almereyda also
plays down cer
tain passages,
cuts others out
and allows the cli
max to play on
without much
By no means
is this “Hamlet,"
playing at the Dundee Theater in Omaha, a beginner’s
version of the tale. Anyone entirely unfamiliar with the
play will find this film frustrating, and Hawke’s per
formance hard to follow.
Almereyda expects a certain level of understand
ing from his audience, hoping they take more from
the mood of the film than the play itself, which they
ought to be familiar with.
And the atmosphere of this “Hamlet” reigns
supreme; Almereyda injects the action with a dense
fog of melancholy, using the title role as its physical
Using a color palette not unlike Kubrick’s in “Eyes
Wide Shut," the photography captures NYC clarity,
able to easily move from grandeur to squalor within
one scene. Soothing and luxuriant like a depressant,
Hamlet only rouses himself to anger on small occa
sions, preferring to play out large philosophies,
including part of his "Tb be or not to be" speech, with
in his head.
The mooa touches upon other characters.
Polonius is played by Bill Murray, with the same sort of
Megan Cody/DN
whimsical cynicism that marked his performance in
“Rushmore.” Murray transforms his character into
neither old fool nor wise sage, but a corporate Willy
Loman, who might have once believed his words, but
now uses them as philosophic filler.
Julia Stiles is Ophelia, who seems to have been
made decidedly cloyish and immature in this version,
to the point of pouts and wistful dreams of watery sui
cide. Stiles, who inhabits the role of a self-assured
character quite well, seems too grounded and smoky
voiced to nail this wavering performance, though her
breakdown scene in the Guggenheim Museum is
Iiev Schriber, as Laertes, is appropriately angry
when called upon, while Venora and Maclachlan form
a strange, lustful pair. Sam Shepard, as the wronged
father, affects an Irish accent nicely.
And then there is Hawke, whose act borders on the
near comical in a few scenes, especially one where his
obsession of film is adequately revealed at the video
counter. And yet it is complex, for this Hamlet keeps
much inside, venting often to various machinery,
along with his pixel-vision camcorder.
Here, it is die technology that serves as Hamlet’s
shield of insecurity, as his play within a play becomes
a montage of classic films, and he contemplates his
fate against images of Brandon Lee and James Dean.
More than earlier versions, Hawke’s performance
unveils an unrealized promise in the Danish prince, a
genius that hides just underneath the surface, and
skulks the action aisles of Blockbuster Video.
Almereyda’s “Hamlet” gives proper characteriza
tion for Hamlet’s inability to complete the deed, along
with an idea of being overmatched by Claudius,
served up perfecdy during a late scene in a laundro
It is these individual scenes, more like a play than
it seems at first glance, that resonate afterward,
beyond the implications of the tale. The movie is less
about drawing modem parallels to the tale than it is
about using modernity to better explain Hamlet’s
Assuming one knows and understands the play, it
becomes clear that director Almereyda is making his
claim with the picture, while still respecting
Shakespeare’s language, much unlike that of “William
Shakespeare's Romeo+Juliet” of a few years prior.
Rather, the movie stretches the limits of the play's
comprehension and inhabits an entirely different uni
verse in the process to evoke its mood. Vibrant yet
coolly haunting, audacious yet faithful, “Hamlet” hits
the tragic vein of life perfectly, enough to confuse a
seasoned Shakespeare vet and yet still be witness to a
stunning creation.