Screwball comedy showcases college, community actors |

Screwball comedy showcases college, community actors

Kristin Carlson
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Gary Ketzenbarger, as the ghost of John Barrymore, demonstrates how to portray Hamlet and also romance a woman (Cassidy Willey, who can't see the apparition) in the CMC Theatre production of "I Hate Hamlet." The comedy will be performed Dec. 2-11 at the New Space Theatre at Colorado Mountain College in Spring Valley, between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. Photo Scot Gerdes

Paul Rudnick’s “I Hate Hamlet,” a comedy of word play and swordplay, explores and explodes the art of playwright William Shakespeare.

“We wanted a comedy with strong, clever writing that would really highlight the talent of the actors,” said Sue Lavin, director of the piece and Colorado Mountain College adjunct instructor. “This play is a showcase for a strong cast. Every character is a rich nut.”

“We have a kind of national ambivalence toward Shakespeare,” Lavin said. “The play brings that rejection center stage and, at the same time, puts a focus on the beauty of Shakespeare’s language.”

Gary Ketzenbarger, director of the theater program at Colorado Mountain College, said, “So many kids have Shakespeare forced on them in school and just hate it. All the issues about Shakespeare’s inaccessibility get addressed in this play, but the grandeur of his writing is passed along despite the complaints.”

The play tells the story of Andrew Rally, a young TV actor who moves into an apartment once owned by, and still haunted by, John Barrymore.

The ghost of the iconic star of stage and screen is determined to help Andrew grow into a classical, Shakespearean actor, complete with dueling skills. There’s just one problem: Andrew Rally hates “Hamlet.”

Nick Garay, who last spring became CMC’s first student to graduate with an associate’s degree with an emphasis in theater, plays the floundering thespian, Andrew.

“He’s a lousy actor, but he has potential,” said Garay about his character. “He’s just starting to realize that, as an actor in the theater, you have to study the text; you don’t get a second take.”

Cassidy Willey, current theater student at CMC and graduate of Glenwood Springs High School and CU-Boulder, plays Andrew’s girlfriend, Deirdre, a wide-eyed enthusiast for all things theatrical.

Willey, who has been acting since childhood, has a similar devotion.

“Theater is my passion,” she said. “What better way to learn more about the art, the technique and the history but to pursue a degree and explore every aspect of the craft?”

Gary Ketzenbarger portrays the ghost of John Barrymore.

“He’s a womanizer and an alcoholic,” explained Ketzenbarger, “but he’s also a serious actor, and an over-the-top, larger-than-life star.”

Kelly Ketzenbarger plays the giddy real estate agent, Felicia. Like many in the cast, she’s at home in the theater. Her father, Jim Symons, was chair of the theater department at CU-Boulder, and she met her husband, Gary, playing Juliet to his Romeo in an acting class.

Rounding out the cast are local favorites Gerald DeLisser and Janice Estey. DeLisser portrays Andy’s smarmy but charming agent, while Estey brings poignant humor to the role of Barrymore’s former lover.

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