A weekly column by Catherin Dugan. This week: “I Hate Hamlet” at Cape May Stage.
To see, or not to see? If that is your question, don’t dither like Hamlet any longer. Get your tickets to see whatever Cape May Stage is showing when you are in town. Gone are the days when you could wait and expect to get a ticket – these days, the shows are often sold out. Cape May Stage has gone from being an enhancement to your beach vacation to being a destination all its own, drawing theater lovers who may or may not visit the beach. For example, I met a couple who came from central Pennsylvania to see three productions at Cape May Stage in one week – I Hate Hamlet and two Second Stage events – and then went home, without setting foot on the beach.
Cape May Stage draws stars from movies and television, and from theater in New York, Philadelphia and national tours. Some of them, like Kate McCauley Hathaway, bring a connection to Cape May; others forge a connection when they come to work. The 2010 season offers a mix of comedy and drama, and the Second Stage productions add cabaret and vaudeville. Throw in daytime performances sometimes scheduled for the kids, and you’ve got quite a lineup.
On a recent evening we saw I Hate Hamlet, a comedy by Paul Rudnick which features an actor about to play Hamlet who meets the ghost of John Barrymore. It’s a clever play, which draws giggles and outright guffaws from the audience, and the six talented actors work together beautifully. The connections to Cape May – old-fashioned living spaces, television stars doing theater, ghosts – make it even more fun.
Sue Graves and Marie Pagliuca, both of Cape May (and both old enough to remember when the show’s star, David Birney, first set hearts a-flutter in Bridget Loves Bernie back in the ’70s), saw the Hamlet show on opening weekend. Sue loves the intimacy of Cape May Stage and the ability to make eye contact with the actors. She finds herself drawn in by their talent, and encourages family and friends to see each production. Take her advice!
As the summer goes on, the shows seem to get more popular, thanks to excellent word-of-mouth. Get your tickets now for Romance/Romance, Barry Harman’s Tony-nominated pair of one act plays, with music by Keith Herrmann. There is no better setting for these connected stories of love, identity and vacation. It runs July 21 to August 21. Dinner and a Show packages are available from some of Cape May’s finest restaurants, and they promise to get you to the show on time.
Next week: The Cape May/Lewes Ferry