PUBLISHED: 4:02 PM on Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Season 28 opens with Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'
Perseverance Theatre

Photo by Amanda Gragert
  Hamlet (Jake Waid) confronts his mother Gertrude (Katie Jensen). "Hamlet" opens the 28th season at Perseverance Theatre and shows through Oct. 1.
To tell or not to tell seemed to be the question in bringing "Hamlet" to the stage for the opening of the 28th season at Perseverance Theatre.

Artistic director of the theater and director of "Hamlet," PJ Paparelli said cutting the play down to less than two and a half hours was important in telling the core of the story.

"It is hard because you have to know the story you want to tell. There is a whole political side of the story, and I just decided that I didn't want to make it about politics," Paparelli said. "You can get swept away with the ideas, concepts and themes. We're just telling the story."

Paparelli said he wanted to tell the story of the relationships in Hamlet's life and how those situations affected him.

"It takes a sort of discipline to take it in one direction and making sure the story is clear," he said. "I feel that a lot of people are afraid of "Hamlet" because it's so well known and it seems overwhelming. We've tried very hard to make it very human."

Production for "Hamlet" was underway for five weeks, and the show opened Saturday and will run through Oct. 1.

Paparelli said that while the play is an edited-down version, it remains traditional.

Photo by Amanda Gragert
  From left: Hamlet (Jake Waid) talks with his friends Rosencrantz (Jordan Barbour) and Horatio (Ryan Conarro) in "Hamlet," which is being shown at Perseverance Theatre for the first time. Artistic director PJ Paparelli leads the Perseverance Acting Company through a bloody and fast paced version of the famous play.
"This is not a 'Hamlet' set on Mars. I wanted to give Juneau a very traditional version but not boring, and I think we got it."

Paul Dennhardt of the School of Theatre at Illinois State University served as fight director for the production.

"Sword fighting in Juneau is pretty much non-existent. I really wanted to showcase the fencing aspect of this show for the audience to enjoy," Paparelli said. "This is a bloody production. There are literally gallons of buckets of fake blood backstage."

This season's production of "Hamlet" is a first in the 28 years of Perseverance Theatre. Paparelli said after two years of working with Company members in other Shakespeare shows, he thought now was the right time to bring "Hamlet" to Perseverance.

"It's a very difficult play. Doing other shows was a nice way to build up to this, and have the company explore and experiment with the language," Paperelli said. "That's one of the most challenging parts. You have to understand the form and get that speech just right. The language in Shakespeare is like opera music. A rocker can sing opera, but it won't sound pretty."

Playing the title role is Jake Waid, who has a long history with Perseverance Theatre. Paparelli said he had Waid in mind when thinking about bringing "Hamlet" to the lineup this season.

"Jake's had 12 years with the theater and his dad was a company member. When you have an actor with that history, and he's the perfect age for it, and it's a role he has played before - it just all lead up to this," Paparelli said.

Taking on the role of Hamlet is not an easy task, he said.

"It's extremely exhausting. You have to train like an athlete. You're body is so tired after doing one scene and that goes on for scene after scene," Paparelli said. "It's also emotionally very drowning on top of running around like a mad person and doing a sword fight.

In addition to Waid, the cast of "Hamlet" includes Perseverance Theatre Company members Aaron Elmore, Katie Jensen, Ryan Conarro , Doniece Gott, Ed Christian, Charlie Cardwell, Flordelino Lagundino, Ben Brown, Jordan Barbour, Lucas Hoiland, Jesse Alleva and Corin Hughes-Skandijs.

The design team for "Hamlet" includes Sheila Wyne as set designer, Meg Zeder as costume designer, Klyph Stanford as lighting designer, composer Fabian Obispo for original music, Dennhardt as fight choreographer, Sally Smith as vocal coach and Cricket Curtain at stage manager.

For information, call the theater at 463-TIXS or go online to