By Lauren Friederman
Waco Civic Theatre is kicking off its season with the production, “I Hate Hamlet” on Friday. Intermingled throughout the production are several Baylor Bears.
Eric Shephard, director of Waco Civic Theatre earned his master’s degree in theater from Baylor in 1999.
“What I knew when I came here was acting,” Shephard said. “I kept getting jobs as a director and I thought: ‘Well, maybe that’s my future.’”
Shephard said early in his career, he worked at a professional theater in Kentucky where the first play he worked on was “I Hate Hamlet.” He encountered the show again in his third year of graduate school at Baylor. Now, at the Waco Civic Theatre, he said he decided to try his hand at directing the show himself.
In “I Hate Hamlet,” an actor by the name of Andrew Rally moves into a new apartment formerly inhabited by actor John Barrymore. Barrymore was famous for his legendary performance as Hamlet, and coincidentally, Rally is in line to play the same part.
During the play, the ghost of Barrymore appears to Rally. The ghost mentors Rally, helping him to become the best Hamlet he can be. Shephard said this not only has an effect on Rally’s acting, but on his character as well.
This comedy, filled with special effects and sword-fighting, invites the viewers into the world of show business, Shephard said.
“It’s about a person coming into their own,” Shephard said. “We can always identify with that.”
Houston senior Haley Landers plays the role of Deirdre McDavey, Andrew Rally’s girlfriend.
“She’s a performer, an actor,” Haley said. “She knows her happy ending is out there but she hasn’t quite found it.”
Landers said she has participated in theater most of her life, but began taking it more seriously in high school. Her love of singing and dance lead her to pursue a degree in musical theater at Auburn. When Landers transferred to Baylor, she became a theater major.
“That’s the fun of theater for me, just being able to be vulnerable onstage even when I’m not that in real life,” Landers said.
“I Hate Hamlet” is Haley’s third show with Waco Civic Theatre.
“She’s one of our examples of a great find,” Shephard said. “She came here to play Fiona in ‘Shrek’ and we liked her so much we asked her to come back.”
Haley Landers isn’t the only Baylor Bear involved with Waco Civic Theatre. Bobby Abrahams, the husband of Baylor professor Marnie Abrahams, plays the ghost of John Barrymore. Todd Martin, the assistant technical director for Waco Hall, plays Gary Peter Lefkowitz.