Nu•ance Theatre Company
John DeSotelle Studios
Opening Night Review by Mike Pirozzi
Most people agree that in order to be the best or at least get better, we must challenge ourselves… not stay complacent. A pitcher in baseball may try adding a pitch to his repertoire, a gymnast or figure skater may look to include a more difficult move to their routine… All in the name of getting better… to becoming the best you can be.
Actors are certainly no different. The best ones never rest on their laurels. They constantly hone their craft through classes, scene studies and seeking roles that will test the limits and versatility of their chosen profession. What better way to do so, than wrapping your arms around a little Shakespeare. This is surely the gold standard of acting; the best way to test your mettle and dedication to your craft. As true as that is, consider if you will, the Director. Not only does has he or she have to challenge themselves, but also find a way to challenge the actors in his cast and the audience as well.
That brings me to John DeSotelle and his Studio at 300 W43rd Street. Doing local theater is not easy, especially off-off Broadway. The challenges are immense. So what does John do? He takes on Shakespeare. Not only that, but Hamlet. And not only Hamlet, but the full 3 1⁄2 hour production. Oh, and did I mention that the lead is played by an actor in his first major role?
Talk about challenges. That being said, Mr. DeSotelle brings to life a wonderful production of the classic story. As most off off Broadway productions, constraints are many. Funding for set designs, costumes, marketing… are all a concern. But somehow John and his team were able to put on a wonderfully staged and visually beautiful show. Special kudos to Matthew Imhoff (scenic design) and Sarah Marie Dixey (costume design). Judith Feingold (AD), Lauren Fischetti (producing manager) Mel Ryan (stage manager) and Allison Newcombe (asst. stage manager) round out the production team.
The 3 1⁄2 hour production (with 2 intermissions) is long, but it never felt tedious. The stage direction was brisk, and the cast moved through with quickness and ease. As in all Shakespeare, the real challenge is bringing the dialogue to life, and doing it in a way that seems more natural than rehearsed. For the most part the cast was able to do this. The Meisner trained ensemble knew their way around the story and glided effortlessly from scene to scene.
Particularly adept was Jack Wink as Hamlet. His debut lead role will, I am sure, lead to many others down the road. Also impressive were Ethan Russell as Laertes, Julia Boyles as Ophelia, Justin Briodo as Rosencrantz, and Mickey Pantano as Gertrude. The cast guided us through the many different sides of the characters, some melting into madness, others into treason and still more wanting revenge. In the end, it is time well spent. I would encourage you to see the show, and see how well the challenge of bringing this incredible story to life is met.
Through Feb. 25th. Tickets/info: http://www.desotellestudio.com/index.html