September 24, 2017

“Hamlet” Review- Midsommer Flight is a must-see in Chicago’s Parks

Joe Sergio as Laertes and Samuel Cheeseman as Hamlet duel in Midsommer Flight's "Hamlet"; photo by Zack Whittington

 The professional not-for-profit theatre company “Midsommer Flight” has returned for it’s 6th season bringing free Shakespeare to Chicago’s parks. They are currently performing Shakespeare’s “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” for 2 weekends in each of 4 Chicago Parks this summer, through August 27th, in partnership with The Chicago Park District, as part of the City’s “Nights Out in the Parks”initiative. (See schedule below).

Ian Michael Minh as Horatio holding Samuel Cheeseman as Hamlet; photo by Zack Whittington

This reviewer attended the opening outdoors in Lincoln Park on July 8th.  This was a charming, abridged but fully loaded presentation, chock-full of the beloved characters and lines that have made this a timeless favorite for some 400 years. Filled with passion, wit, intrigue, original music, minstrels, period costumes, swordplay, and of course, the play-within-a-play device of which the Bard was so fond, the 100-minute presentation was perfectly situated on the ground, at dusk, with natural lighting and sans microphones, much as it would’ve been in Stratford-on Avon.

Indeed, reclining on the lawn amid the bemused spectators, young and old folk, children and dogs, in a sylvan setting between leafy trees, with pedestrians trodding, cycling and pushing perambulators on nearby footpaths, it was a perfect evening to enjoy the inimitable tragedy.

Samuel Cheeseman and Ian Michael Minh as Hamlet and Horatio in Midsommer Flight’s “Hamlet’; photo by Tom McGrath TCMcG Photography

Beautifully directed by Company Founder and Producing Artistic Director Beth Wolf, the talented and focused cast included:

Samuel Cheeseman as a Hamlet who segues between anger, scorn and faux madness as the complicated, orphaned Prince

Jared Dennis, enthralling, alternately stern and frightening/frightfully devious as Claudius and the Ghost, who uttered menacing or death-defying lines in sonorous tones, striding majestically about the inside paths

Stephen Fedo, wonderfully boring/bumbling/overly solicitous as Polonius; in short, a dad whom you can easily believe sired the two offspring he produced

Bianca Phipps, a non-exasperating (for-once!) believable Ophelia, quirky, long-suffering, wondrously lovable

Joe Sergio as a staunchly filial Laertes, strong, courageous, ultimately lost

Ian Michael Minh as the true-blue knightlike Horatio, a steadfast friend, a trustworthy ally

Jesse Montoya and Adam Rice as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, non-severable loyal and energetic minions with more than a streak of comedic thrust

Morayo Orija as Gertrude, who gave us a stunningly heartfelt/all-too-human Queen, not frail, not weak

Samuel Cheeseman as Hamlet and Bianca Phipps as Ophelia; photo by Zack Whittington

– With support from Martin Gutfeldt, Adam Habben, Amber Huggee, Erick Rivera and Emily Renee Shimskey, without whose memorable cameos and music the piece would have been far less rich.

Kudos to the entire production staff and a special mention to Adam Habben in yet another role, that of Fight Captain; the ultimate scene between Laertes and Hamlet was absolutely thrilling. It resulted, of course, in the immortal lines of Horatios’s that closed the play, the most famous eulogy ever penned,

“ Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

 

Samuel Cheeseman as Hamlet with musicians Erick Rivera, Amber Huggee and Martin Gutfelldt in Midsommer Flight’s “Hamlet”; photo by Tom McGrath TCMcG Photography

The play is highly recommended. Go see it at:

Touhy Park, July 15-16 and 22-23, 2017

-Schreiber Park, July 29-30 and August 5-6, 2017

Gross Park, August 12-13 and 19-20, 2017

Lincoln Park, August 26-27, 2017

For information and tickets to all the great productions by Midsommer Flight, go to www.midsommerflight.com

 

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