Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Theatre Tuscaloosa Loves 'I Hate Hamlet'

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Theatre Tuscaloosa Loves 'I Hate Hamlet'

Article excerpt

To be a star or to be an actor? That is the question.

For TV star Andrew Rally, recently moved into the mostly late John Barrymore's New York apartment, that's the gist: To be rich or to be respected? To be coddled or to be challenged? To be TV's darling or to be Hamlet?

Playwright Paul Rudnick had his first hit with this comedy about the ghost of Barrymore whipping a young upstart into shape. He went on to further success with "Jeffrey" and "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told," as well as screenplays for films such as "In & Out," "The First Wives Club," "Addams Family Values" and more.

But "I Hate Hamlet" spun off a real experience, when the young writer moved into a Greenwich Village brownstone that had been the early 20th century home of the grand, flamboyant Barrymore, known as The Great Profile, and also known for his wild, profligate life. Rudnick was haunted by the grandiose Gothic--Jacobean retreat, and by tales of its former tenement, taken from an "entertainingly fraudulent" autobiography and other sources. He began work on a novel, before realizing the one-location, theatrical material would work best as a stage play.

Director Paul K. Looney returns to a script he visited previously in 1995, for a production at the Bama Theatre.

"It's not a show filled with jokes; it's not that kind of comedy," said Looney, who as artistic director emeritus of Theatre Tuscaloosa returns from partial retirement to direct, on occasion. "All the laughs come out of the situations."

Rally (Russell Stephens), a success on vapid TV hit "L.A. Medical," has moved to New York at the urging of his agent, Lillian Troy (Tina F. Turley), who thinks an acting stretch would be good for him. He brings along his fiancee, Deidre (Lindsey Jones), a 29- year-old avowed virgin who loves theater. Realtor Felicia Dantine (Eryn Davis) introduces Rally to the apartment, and by performing a seance, perhaps induces Barrymore's ghost (Gary Wise) to make a guest appearance.

Barrymore is cursed to stay until Rally takes on the role. He begins to come around to Barrymore's side, until temptation arrives in the form of Hollywood friend Gary Lefkowitz (Malcolm Bynum), offering Rally a role in a TV show that's bound to be a hit. …

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