Goodwill Theatre will present two weeks of HAMLET matinees for students starting January 31.

Rehearsals Begin for Goodwill's HAMLET

To see, or not to see? For some audiences members who may find Shakespeare intimidating, that is the question. But Goodwill Theatre’s “Shakespeare Alive!” Program is designed to make masterpieces of dramatic literature accessible and engaging for middle and high school students.

Goodwill Theatre, Inc. will continue its highly successful program with a new production of the Bard’s most acclaimed tragedy, “Hamlet” at the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage in Johnson City.

The “Shakespeare Alive!” Program is the cornerstone of Goodwill Theatre’s ongoing education programming, and allows area students to develop a fuller understanding of Shakespeare’s stories, characters and language by experiencing his works outside the classroom. Student matinees will be held on weekday mornings, starting January 31. After the show, students and teachers have the opportunity to have a “talk-back” – a discussion session with the performers and the director.

“Last year, eleven schools from five counties in two states brought students to ‘Othello’,” said Naima Kradjian, Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill Theatre, Inc. “We expect even more participation this year. Our long-term goal is to make sure that no student in upper New York State graduates from high school without having seen Shakespeare performed on stage.”

This year’s “Hamlet” – set in Imperialist Russia – is supported in part by BAE Systems Platform Solutions, the BAE Systems Controls Employees Community Service Fund, and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Rehearsals are now underway, directed by Rosey Hay, and starring Rudy Caporaso, Alyssa DiPalma, Bernie Sheredy, Melanie Uhlir, Richard Mertens, Allen Weaver, Michael Flynn, Richard Mancuso, and Robert Rogers.

“Seeing a live performance allowed our students to make an emotional connection with the play,” said Norman Farwell, a teacher at Sidney High School who brought his students to see “Hamlet” in 2009. “Without this kind of program, many of our students might never have this experience.”

Performances for the public will be Friday, February 4 at 7:00 pm, and Saturday, February 12 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $15 for students and senior citizens, and $20 general admission. Those interested make reservations immediately by calling the Goodwill Theatre Box Office at 607.772.2404, ext. 1.

Some seating is still available at the student matinees for home-schooled children, or those who cannot attend the public performances. Special rates may be available to student matinee performances, depending on the size of the group. Interested persons can call the Goodwill Theatre Box Office at 607.772.2404, ext. 1, or e-mail: info@goodwilltheatre.net

Rosey Hay is returning to Binghamton to direct, after directing “Othello” in 2010, and “Hamlet” in 2009. Hay studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company as Trevor Nunn’s Assistant Director. She is the Artistic Director for REV Theatre Company, and she directed and co-created REV’s production “The Witch of Edmonton”. She has also worked at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Buffalo’s Studio Arena Theatre, and the Yale Repertory Theatre. She is currently a Professor of Acting at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.

Rudy Caporaso, member of the Actors Equity Association, will reprise the title role he played in 2009. Caporaso also played Iago, one of Shakespeare’s most nefarious villains, in the 2010 production of “Othello”. He has appeared Off-Broadway at the Provincetown Playhouse and the Interart Theatre Annex, as well as at the South Jersey Regional Theatre, the Berkshire Theatre Festival. He has also performed with La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, the Directors Company, HERE Arts Center, The Open Space, and the Ensemble Studio Theatre. In London, he appeared at the Battersea Arts Centre and the Finborough Arms. Caporaso studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Melanie Uhlir will perform as Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. She played leading roles in many productions with the Ithaca Shakespeare Company, including Lady Macbeth, and Puck in A "Midsummer Night’s Dream". She starred as the Fool in "King Lear" and Queen Margaret in "Richard III" with the Red Bull Players. Educated at SUNY New Paltz, she has appeared in productions by WingSpace Theater Company, Kitchen Theatre Company, Wolf's Mouth Theatre Collective, Third Floor Productions, the Brobdingnagian Players, and Black Umbrella Company, as well as a handful of films.

Bernie Sheredy, member of the Actors Equity Association, will join the cast this year as Hamlet’s uncle and step-father, Claudius. Sheredy is most well-known for a character role in the feature film “Meet the Parents”. He has also appeared in the films “House of D”, “Quiz Show”, “Outside Providence”, “Liebestrom” and “A Fish in the Bathtub”, and in the television shows “Law & Order”, “Ed” and “Remember WENN”. Sheredy appeared in the Off-Broadway production of “Waiting for Lefty” at the Classic Stage Company. “American Buffalo” with Two River Theater Company at the Algonquin Arts Theater, “1776” and “Titanic” at the Gateway Playhouse. Locally, he has appeared in readings by Southern Tier Actors Read (STAR), and he directed “K2” at KNOW Theatre.

Alyssa DiPalma plays the role of Ophelia. DiPalma is a recent graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she appeared in several shows, including “Little Women” and “9 Parts of Desire”. DiPalma starred in REV Theatre Company’s “The Witch of Edmonton” and Parallax Theatre Company’s “Realm of the Unreal”. She has appeared at the Philly Fringe Festival, and performed with Second Sight Theatre Company, and Xhale Dance Company.

Richard Mertens is reprising his 2009 role as Polonius. He has performed with numerous companies across the Southern Tier, including Franklin Stock Company, KNOW Theatre, The Cider Mill Playhouse, Endicott Performing Arts Center, Ti-Ahwaga Community Theatre, Little Victory Players and the Barnstorm Players.

Richard Mancuso is portraying the Gravedigger. “Hamlet” was the first play Mancuso appeared in professionally. He played four separate roles in the Arena Players’ production, and a reviewer for The New York Times wrote that he did not realize these characters were portrayed by the same person until he checked the playbill. Locally, Mancuso has performed with the Summer Savoyards, the BC Pops, Theatricks By Starlight, Jan De Angelo Productions, Tongue N Cheek Productions, and The Cider Mill.

Nationally recognized puppeteer Robert Rogers will perform as the Player King, and will design and create Russian-inspired puppets for the famous “play within the play” scene. Rogers established his touring repertory puppet theater in 1980. Since then, the Robert Rogers Puppet Company has performed throughout the United States and abroad. Rogers received his B.F.A. from the School of Arts of New York University, and he continued post-graduate studies at the University of Iowa. He has received grant support from the New York State Arts Council, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the New England Touring Foundation, the Danbury Cultural Commission, the Meserve Memorial Fund, and the Puppeteers of America.

Allen Weaver joined the cast to perform as Laertes and Guildenstern. Michael Flynn will play Horatio and Rosencrantz.

Tickets to the public performances on February 4 and 12, if still available, will be sold at the door. Doors open one hour before show time. The Schorr Family Firehouse Stage, located at 46-48 Willow Street in Johnson City, is the first performance venue of the Goodwill Theatre Performing Arts Complex & Professional Training Academy. The box office accepts cash, checks, and all major credit cards. Patrons are advised to enter the facility through the parking lot on Corliss Avenue. Parking is available in a small lot at the theatre, on-street, and in various Village municipal lots within two blocks of the theatre. Beverages and concessions will be available before the show and during intermission.

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