Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT) once again brings Shakespeare to young audiences with their world premiere adaptation of Hamlet, opening Friday January 25, 2008, with performances through February 24, 2008. SCT Artistic Associate Rita Giomi, who adapted the Bard’s classic for five actors, also directs the production.

"Hamlet is one of the greatest characters in the history of theatre because everyone can identify with his passion, confusion, and sense of familial loyalty,” says SCT Artistic Director Linda Hartzell. “This thrilling ghost story will captivate today’s audience as it has for centuries.”

Giomi brings over 25 years of professional theatre experience to the production, and has directed more than a dozen plays at SCT, including The Big Friendly Giant earlier this season. She previously adapted Shakespeare’s The Tempest for four actors and Romeo and Juliet for five, both at SCT. Asked about the challenges of adapting Hamlet, Giomi says “For me, the artistic challenge is the reason for doing it. I’m a bit of a Shakespeare nerd, and the hardest part was making the first cut. There’s so much there to honor and so much to work with.”

Continues Giomi, “The center of the story is this highly stressed family. Hamlet is a young man handed enormous responsibility but lacking the tools to deal with it. He feels betrayed by everyone around him. Watching him struggle with the terrifying turn his life has taken is both mesmerizing and illuminating. His questions about the world around him are ours.”

SCT’s production focuses on the core of the familiar story: Prince Hamlet returns to Denmark to find his father murdered and his uncle Claudius in possession of his father’s wife and throne. This treachery unsettles the spirit of the late King. He beckons his son Hamlet to avenge his untimely death. Hamlet puts on the trappings of madness to try and unearth the truth. He casts off all his old friends and even spouts “wild and whirling words” denouncing his love for the sweet Ophelia in favor of his new obsession – vengeance. Or is this madness merely a ruse to “catch the conscience of the king” so Hamlet may enact his revenge? Sensing the danger his nephew presents, Claudius conspires to slay Hamlet. And amidst the clashing of swords and passing of poisoned goblets, all the players fall prey to the treachery that stains the soil of poor Denmark.

Connor Toms, previously appearing in this season’s The Big Friendly Giant and SCT’s summer toddler-theatre production of The Green Sheep, takes on the role of Hamlet, with Peter Crook, Darragh Kennan, Renata Friedman and Amy Thone all tackling multiple roles. Tim Gouran and Morgan Rowe understudy.

Other members of the production’s artistic staff include Movement Consultant Geoffrey Alm, Costumer Designer Heidi Ganser, Lighting Designer Michael Wellborn, Scenic Designer Matthew Smucker, and Sound Designer Chris Walker.

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