Bard Bonanza

South Sound theater scene is set to go off

By Steve Dunkelberger on September 16, 2009

The regular season for most theaters in the South Sound starts this week, so prepare yourself for a steady stream of theater now that the summer slump is over. Cue the sound of rejoicing.

Also in the works is host of short-run shows at some of the smaller theater houses.

Prodigal Sun Productions' presentation of a free, staged reading of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, adapted to run less than two hours with an eight-member cast, is just one of those shows.  This two-show gig plays at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday in the Midnight Sun Performance Space at 113 Columbia St. NW in downtown Olympia.

This show is a labor of love for Christian Carvajal, who dissected this play line by line with an English professor, Dr. Mark Walling, co-founder of the Cross Timbers Theatre Company in Ada, Oklahoma, five years ago.

"Rarely have I had so much fun," Carvajal wrote in his note about the show. "Mark and I discovered an Ophelia who could hold her own against Hamlet ... We found a melancholy Dane who cracks death jokes that still land four centuries later. Above all, we found a plot as busy and riveting as any nighttime soap opera, Lost and Mad Men included.  Since then, I’ve been dying to share my obsession with this material, almost certainly the greatest play ever written in the English language."

This is his chance.

"I invited seven of my favorite local actors (and people) to replay Mark’s project," continues Carvajal. "We’ve approached Hamlet primarily through table reads, and we present it here as a staged reading (a play with no set and only partial blocking and memorization). Our Hamlet is free of, not only admission price, but also four hundred years of linguistic sediment. ... And while you may already know how it ends, perhaps you’ve forgotten some of how it gets there."

The cast includes John Ficker, Tim Hoban, Tim Goebel, Dennis Rolly, Jennie Jenks, Robert McConkey and Ingrid Pharris.

Shakespeare writes such tight language that any interpretation of a show like Hamlet is going to be a treat to the soul. Give this one a look. Thank me later.

For something more light hearted, check out And Then There Were None. This mystery-comedy by Agatha Christie centers on a row of little soldier boys that fall to the floor and break one by one as those in the house succumb to a diabolical avenger. The show runs at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays, Sept. 18 to Oct. 4 at Paradise Theatre, 9911 Burnham Dr NW, Gig Harbor. For more information, call 253.851.PLAY.

Although the recession is in its death rolls, money still is tight in most households around the South Sound, so here are a few picks to watch for: The Fantastic Stardust Follies, A group of performers ages in their silver years with 32 dancing legs and 750 years in show business will be holding a three-hour extravaganza that includes excerpts from Beyond the Sea, Annie, Music Man, The Boy From Oz, Cabaret, Mamma Mia and Phantom of the Opera. This show just runs for two days, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, 7108 6th Ave., Tacoma. Tickets are $20. Call 253.565.6876 or visit

[Midnight Sun Performance Space, Prodigal Sun Productions' presentation of Hamlet, Friday, Sept. 18 and Saturday, Sept. 19, 8 p.m., 113 Columbia St. NW, Olympia, 360.250.2721]

[Paradise Theatre, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Sept. 18-Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, $10-$22, 9911 Burnham Dr. N.W., Gig Harbor, 253.851.PLAY]

[Tacoma Musical Playhouse, The Fantastic Stardust Follies, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 20, 2 p.m., $20, 7108 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.565.6876]