'Hamlet' continues May 2-4 at Tri-Cities Prep in Pasco

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerApril 17, 2014 

Clockwise from left are Annie Bayless as Queen Gertrude, Christopher Yakewich as King Claudius, Catherine Jacobs as Ophelia and Eric Powers as Hamlet.

COURTESY BRETT POWERS

Tri-Cities Prep drama students will tackle Shakespeare's Hamlet for their spring stage production.

Curtain time is 7 p.m. April 25-26 and May 2-3 with a 3 p.m. matinee May 4 at the Catholic high school, 9612 St. Thomas Drive in Pasco.

The lead actors in the play, seniors Eric Powers (Hamlet) and Catherine Jacobs (Ophelia), say they embrace the idea of wading into the dark side of Shakespeare's work.

"The biggest challenge is initially understanding the material," Powers said.

Shakespeare is nothing new for the school's drama students, however. Co-directors Nina and Brett Powers have been introducing the students to the Bard's works for about three years.

"I enjoy the intensity of Hamlet because it is such a contrast from the usual over-the-top, goofy characters I have portrayed in the past," said senior Annie Bayless, who plays Queen Gertrude.

For those unfamiliar with Shakespeare, Hamlet is all about revenge. Hamlet is consumed with grief over the death of his father. That grief is fueled by hatred after he suspects his Uncle Claudius (played by senior Christopher Yakewich) of murdering his father. His dark mood deepens when Claudius marries Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude, and ascends to the throne.

The play touches on much of the nefarious behavior -- rage, treachery, incest, moral corruption -- that has plagued mankind for eons.

"The more I have grown accustomed to reading and acting the works of Shakespeare, the more I have been able to appreciate his work," Bayless said. "He really was a genius and his plays have profound meaning and even today relate very closely with society and our human nature."

Jacobs also feels she has grown as an actor by getting involved with Shakespeare plays, she said.

"I'm definitely an actress who is super comfortable with being funny, but doing a tragedy has been amazing," Jacobs said. "It has to do with the emotion and intensity that goes into it. I've been involved with Prep's Shakespeare plays since I was a freshman and I love them.

"What I have learned about Shakespeare this year is that nothing is said or done in his plays without a reason, which makes every play interesting."

Powers said his biggest challenge playing Hamlet is his character's huge amount of dialogue.

"Hamlet is really complex," he said. "It took some time to figure him out, but once I understood who he was it became easier to become him."

Tickets to the show are $12 for adults and $7 for students at the door.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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