Riding high after copping a 2001 OBIE Award Grant for $2,500, the two year-old Classical Theatre of Harlem has mounted the greatest of all classics, Shakespeare's Hamlet. The play will close Aug. 5, after a run beginning July 13 outdoors in The HSA Courtyard Theatre, at 645 St. Nicholas Ave near 141st St.
Alfred Preisser will direct the production. Preisser and Christopher McElroen founded CTH in February 1999, armed only with their industry, vision and combined life savings of $8,966. Their determination was "to create a professional theatre company in Harlem," a neighborhood which, despite a rich theatrical history, has for many years lacked a prominent theatrical outfit. They have produced six shows thus far.
J. Kyle Manzy will play the title role in Hamlet. He will be supported by a couple veterans of New York City's African-American acting scene. Arthur French—himself an OBIE-winner for Sustained Excellence—will play the Ghost and The Player King. French recently appeared at the Working Theatre in Free Market, a collection of eight short works. Rome Neal, who runs the Nuyorican Poets Theatre in the Lower East Side, is Claudius. Also in the cast, as Polonius, is Adam Wade.
Tickets are $15 / $12 groups of ten or more. Take A, B, C, or D trains to 145th Street, exit back of the train and walk 1 block south. For information call: (212) 539-8828.
* For lovers of Hamlet, 2001 has been a banner year. Peter Brook brought his stripped down, elegant, eight-person version of the tragedy, starring a Puckish Adrian Lester, to the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theatre in spring. A month later, BAM hosted a second Dane, directed by John Caird with a heavy, dark hand and acted tremulously by Simon Russell Beale.
—By Robert Simonson