Hamlet

by William Shakespeare | Repertory Theatre of St. Louis - 2017
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Press

“It has taken the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis 51 years to get around to Hamlet. It was worth waiting for. …as the Danish prince, Jim Poulos gives the kind of performance that we go to the Rep in hopes of seeing: supple, articulate, heartbreaking. …Poulos’ animated take on Hamlet impels him to take command of the whole stage. …Poulos leaps up steps and flings himself to the ground; he collapses into the arms of his troubled mother, Gertrude (Robynn Rodriguez), and seizes his beloved Ophelia (Kim Wong, in a tender, girlish performance) in tight embraces, even as he tries to drive her away with his words. …Poulos gives us the romantic Hamlet of the great soliloquies. …the play belongs to Hamlet, the kind of romantic hero you want to protect or maybe to love. This entirely valid interpretation makes “Hamlet” the revenger’s tale into “Hamlet” the tragedy.”

—Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Unapologetically dramatic and thrilling in its pursuit of justice, Hamlet finally arrives at the most prestigious theater in St. Louis. It’s his first visit ever to the Repertory Theatre, in 51 seasons. And he’s alive and kicking, under the direction of Paul Mason Barnes. Which is not to say this newest Hamlet, Jim Poulos, is unsubtle, or overly dramatic—he knows when to go deep inside, and when to come out fighting as well, though it’s more often a war of nerves. But it’s also a pleasure to hear Shakespeare’s great introspective monologs flow beautifully from his mouth in quieter moments. Still fitted with a college boy’s bawdy sense of humor, and awestruck mind, this Hamlet is (of course) also replete with a young man’s idealism. Every new turning point in the plot presents him with a new moral landscape. He also gets in a remarkably full repertoire of sexual jokes, more or less within the bounds of the script. …There’s a whole lot of invention in this particular prince, making him deeply lyrical, but also a reckless, threatening sprig of a man-child. And the investment of character and circumstance all across the stage (in just under three hours) is highly impressive. For Mr. Poulos, in the title role, it is the kind of huge canvas that an actor dreams of, all his younger days. With the help of director Barnes, he takes full advantage of the opportunity, sometimes as a sort of Jackson Pollock, painting the stage with chaos. But just as often, in the quieter moments, he’s a Vermeer, a master of psychological clarity and quiet perspective. We don’t ask, so much, “Is he mad?,” because of course others see the towering ghost of his noble father, too. But we may ask, “Is he a good young man, in a reckless time of life, cursed with an awful circumstance? Or is he always going to be this way: a bad boy, blessed with a poetic heart?”

—Richard T. Green, Talkin’ Broadway

“Jim Poulos brings something slightly wacky and different to his exceptional performance as Hamlet. It’s a surprisingly off-beat portrayal that’s even a bit comical at times, perhaps a reflection of the madness in Hamlet’s method. But the humorous moments only appear to mask his deeper resolve to see justice served. The characterization is still angst-ridden, introspective, and tortured, but Poulos makes his Hamlet seem vibrantly emboldened as well, with a renewed sense of purpose as a result of his ghostly encounter, and you’re with him all the way.”

Chris Gibson, BroadwayWorld.com

“Murder and madness drive The Rep’s electrifying and eloquent interpretation of ‘Hamlet’ …Jim Poulos immerses himself in the language of the story, his body expressing every emotion and motivation with energetic, purposeful movement. Even when deep in thought or lost in madness, his actions are certain, his intentions clearly defined. Poulos easily handles the language and nuances of the script, and conveys much with a pointed gesture or lift of an eyebrow. His Hamlet is bristling in his quietest moments and his rages often contain witty observations and knowing glances. …a thoroughly engrossing dive into the language of Shakespeare with active, beautifully crafted scenes that are likely to have your heart racing.”

—Tina Farmer, KDHX

“Jim Poulos plays the title role triumphantly, swinging from laughter to frenzy at the drop of a hat, but there’s nothing contrived about it. …The story is about the fine line between deep grief and madness, and Poulos manages to show that delicate balance with a great deal of skill. …This is The Rep’s first take on Hamlet, and I think the Bard himself would smile on the production. It commands the full range of emotion he must have intended, from both the players and the viewers.”

—Julia M. Johnson, Town & Style

“I was hoping for a classic, yet freshly delivered production. If you are hoping for the same experience, then you are in luck, because that’s what you will get. …Jim Poulos, who is apparently no stranger to tackling Shakespeare at The Rep, will give you a Hamlet that is loveable, devilishly sarcastic, cunningly mad, and so tortured that you cannot help but thirst for revenge along with him. He is constantly “on”; a physical manifestation of grief and madness. He is Hamlet as it should be. His dry wit and asides to the audience bring much needed comic relief to this nearly 3 hours of wonderful emotional exhaustion.”

—Jacqueline McGarry, Limelight

“Jim Poulos is a most unusual Hamlet but one that works well and spreads less gloom and more madness than any interpretation we’ve ever seen. From doing bicycling type exercises to stalking and taunting and even mimicking those around him, he pulls it off with a great dose of angst and anger mixed in. Carrying on like that for the almost three hour production must be exhausting but what an incredible performance.”

—Steve Allen, Stage Door St. Louis

“Poulos brings us a particularly puckish portrayal of the Melancholy Dane. His Hamlet is thoughtful, but he’s also confrontational, witty, and full of dynamic energy, challenging baffling Claudius and crew with his actions and body language as much as, if not more than, his words. It’s a brilliantly visceral performance. …It could be easy to ask why it’s taken so long for the Rep to produce Hamlet, but it’s also easy to say now that I can’t imagine how they could have done it better. Particularly in its casting and fast-paced staging, this is a Hamlet that is confrontational and majoring on emotion, with a truly remarkable title performance at its heart. It’s a theatrical triumph for the Rep.”

— Michelle Kenyon, Snoops Theatre Thoughts

“Poulos’ physical acting is energetic, his delivery at times rapid-fire, the effect sometimes downright comedic, which doesn’t really feel incongruous. He’s young, he’s driven, he’s smart – no wonder he’s irresistible, even in the midst of all this.”

—Joe and Ann Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks

Credits

Hamlet
by William Shakespeare
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Director: Paul Mason Barnes
Set Design: Michael Ganio
Costume Design: Dorothy Marshall Englis
Lighting Design: Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz

All Photos: Peter Wochniak

Cast: Noah Benjamin Cornwell, Ross Cowan, Jeffrey Cummings, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Harrison Farmer, Tarah Flanagan, Esmeralda Garza, Christopher Gerson, Carl Howell, Stephen Hu, Cassandra Lopez, Ben Love, Ben Nordstrom, Larry Paulsen, Delaney Piggens, Jim Poulos, Michael James Reed, Joshua Roach, Robynn Rodriguez, Scott James Smith, Chaunery Kingsford Tanguay, Jerry Vogel, Kim Wong

h

Press

“It has taken the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis 51 years to get around to Hamlet. It was worth waiting for. …as the Danish prince, Jim Poulos gives the kind of performance that we go to the Rep in hopes of seeing: supple, articulate, heartbreaking. …Poulos’ animated take on Hamlet impels him to take command of the whole stage. …Poulos leaps up steps and flings himself to the ground; he collapses into the arms of his troubled mother, Gertrude (Robynn Rodriguez), and seizes his beloved Ophelia (Kim Wong, in a tender, girlish performance) in tight embraces, even as he tries to drive her away with his words. …Poulos gives us the romantic Hamlet of the great soliloquies. …the play belongs to Hamlet, the kind of romantic hero you want to protect or maybe to love. This entirely valid interpretation makes “Hamlet” the revenger’s tale into “Hamlet” the tragedy.”

—Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Unapologetically dramatic and thrilling in its pursuit of justice, Hamlet finally arrives at the most prestigious theater in St. Louis. It’s his first visit ever to the Repertory Theatre, in 51 seasons. And he’s alive and kicking, under the direction of Paul Mason Barnes. Which is not to say this newest Hamlet, Jim Poulos, is unsubtle, or overly dramatic—he knows when to go deep inside, and when to come out fighting as well, though it’s more often a war of nerves. But it’s also a pleasure to hear Shakespeare’s great introspective monologs flow beautifully from his mouth in quieter moments. Still fitted with a college boy’s bawdy sense of humor, and awestruck mind, this Hamlet is (of course) also replete with a young man’s idealism. Every new turning point in the plot presents him with a new moral landscape. He also gets in a remarkably full repertoire of sexual jokes, more or less within the bounds of the script. …There’s a whole lot of invention in this particular prince, making him deeply lyrical, but also a reckless, threatening sprig of a man-child. And the investment of character and circumstance all across the stage (in just under three hours) is highly impressive. For Mr. Poulos, in the title role, it is the kind of huge canvas that an actor dreams of, all his younger days. With the help of director Barnes, he takes full advantage of the opportunity, sometimes as a sort of Jackson Pollock, painting the stage with chaos. But just as often, in the quieter moments, he’s a Vermeer, a master of psychological clarity and quiet perspective. We don’t ask, so much, “Is he mad?,” because of course others see the towering ghost of his noble father, too. But we may ask, “Is he a good young man, in a reckless time of life, cursed with an awful circumstance? Or is he always going to be this way: a bad boy, blessed with a poetic heart?”

—Richard T. Green, Talkin’ Broadway

“Jim Poulos brings something slightly wacky and different to his exceptional performance as Hamlet. It’s a surprisingly off-beat portrayal that’s even a bit comical at times, perhaps a reflection of the madness in Hamlet’s method. But the humorous moments only appear to mask his deeper resolve to see justice served. The characterization is still angst-ridden, introspective, and tortured, but Poulos makes his Hamlet seem vibrantly emboldened as well, with a renewed sense of purpose as a result of his ghostly encounter, and you’re with him all the way.”

Chris Gibson, BroadwayWorld.com

“Murder and madness drive The Rep’s electrifying and eloquent interpretation of ‘Hamlet’ …Jim Poulos immerses himself in the language of the story, his body expressing every emotion and motivation with energetic, purposeful movement. Even when deep in thought or lost in madness, his actions are certain, his intentions clearly defined. Poulos easily handles the language and nuances of the script, and conveys much with a pointed gesture or lift of an eyebrow. His Hamlet is bristling in his quietest moments and his rages often contain witty observations and knowing glances. …a thoroughly engrossing dive into the language of Shakespeare with active, beautifully crafted scenes that are likely to have your heart racing.”

—Tina Farmer, KDHX

“Jim Poulos plays the title role triumphantly, swinging from laughter to frenzy at the drop of a hat, but there’s nothing contrived about it. …The story is about the fine line between deep grief and madness, and Poulos manages to show that delicate balance with a great deal of skill. …This is The Rep’s first take on Hamlet, and I think the Bard himself would smile on the production. It commands the full range of emotion he must have intended, from both the players and the viewers.”

—Julia M. Johnson, Town & Style

“I was hoping for a classic, yet freshly delivered production. If you are hoping for the same experience, then you are in luck, because that’s what you will get. …Jim Poulos, who is apparently no stranger to tackling Shakespeare at The Rep, will give you a Hamlet that is loveable, devilishly sarcastic, cunningly mad, and so tortured that you cannot help but thirst for revenge along with him. He is constantly “on”; a physical manifestation of grief and madness. He is Hamlet as it should be. His dry wit and asides to the audience bring much needed comic relief to this nearly 3 hours of wonderful emotional exhaustion.”

—Jacqueline McGarry, Limelight

“Jim Poulos is a most unusual Hamlet but one that works well and spreads less gloom and more madness than any interpretation we’ve ever seen. From doing bicycling type exercises to stalking and taunting and even mimicking those around him, he pulls it off with a great dose of angst and anger mixed in. Carrying on like that for the almost three hour production must be exhausting but what an incredible performance.”

—Steve Allen, Stage Door St. Louis

“Poulos brings us a particularly puckish portrayal of the Melancholy Dane. His Hamlet is thoughtful, but he’s also confrontational, witty, and full of dynamic energy, challenging baffling Claudius and crew with his actions and body language as much as, if not more than, his words. It’s a brilliantly visceral performance. …It could be easy to ask why it’s taken so long for the Rep to produce Hamlet, but it’s also easy to say now that I can’t imagine how they could have done it better. Particularly in its casting and fast-paced staging, this is a Hamlet that is confrontational and majoring on emotion, with a truly remarkable title performance at its heart. It’s a theatrical triumph for the Rep.”

— Michelle Kenyon, Snoops Theatre Thoughts

“Poulos’ physical acting is energetic, his delivery at times rapid-fire, the effect sometimes downright comedic, which doesn’t really feel incongruous. He’s young, he’s driven, he’s smart – no wonder he’s irresistible, even in the midst of all this.”

—Joe and Ann Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks

Credits

Hamlet
by William Shakespeare
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Director: Paul Mason Barnes
Set Design: Michael Ganio
Costume Design: Dorothy Marshall Englis
Lighting Design: Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz

All Photos: Peter Wochniak

Cast: Noah Benjamin Cornwell, Ross Cowan, Jeffrey Cummings, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Harrison Farmer, Tarah Flanagan, Esmeralda Garza, Christopher Gerson, Carl Howell, Stephen Hu, Cassandra Lopez, Ben Love, Ben Nordstrom, Larry Paulsen, Delaney Piggens, Jim Poulos, Michael James Reed, Joshua Roach, Robynn Rodriguez, Scott James Smith, Chaunery Kingsford Tanguay, Jerry Vogel, Kim Wong

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