The Public Theater's production of Hamlet went back on the boards last night (Dec. 15), after star Diane Venora's illness forced the cancellation of the Tues., Dec. 14, and the Wed. Matinee, Dec. 15, performances. Venora plays Gertrude in the staging, opposite Liev Schreiber's melancholy Dane. The play is directed by Andrei Serban.
The company began its fretting and strutting at the Public's Newman Nov. 30, following a delay of one week to iron out production elements of the staging. Performances of the Shakespeare tragedy continue Jan. 9. The third time's a charm for Venora at the Public: In 1982, Venora played Hamlet himself in a staging directed by Joseph Papp, and, in 1990, she played Ophelia opposite Kevin Kline, who also directed.
Schreiber (of cable's "RKO 281," the feature film "A Walk on the Moon" and The Public's Cymbeline and Macbeth) plays the tragic title character with Diane Venora (a past Public Hamlet veteran) as Gertrude and Colm Feore ("The Insider" and an alum of Ontario's Stratford Festival) as Claudius.
The new production at the Newman also features David Wilson Barnes, Christian Camargo (Horatio), Justin Campbell, Lynn Collins (Ophelia), Michael Early, Dion Flynn, Jonathan Fried, Andrew Garman, Adam Greer, Marc Gwinn, Francis Jue, Richard Libertini (Polonius), Hamish Linklater (Laertes), George Morfogen (The Player King), Robert Alexander Owens, Jeremy Shamos, Wendy Rich Stetson and Robin Weigert.
Designers are John Coyne (set), Marina Dragichi (costume) and Michael Chybowski (lighting). Elizabeth Swados (Runaways, Doonesbury) provides original music. Serban's Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival credits include Happy Days, The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull and Cymbeline (among others). He is a respected opera director and heads the master of fine arts acting program at Columbia University.
Tickets ($45) are available at The Public Theater box office, 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan, or by calling (212) 239-6200.
-- By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson