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"Hamlet Prince of Denmark" Opens Oct. 20
October 12, 2018

Walters State’s Music and Theatre Department takes on the challenge of producing perhaps the most acclaimed drama ever written: “Hamlet.” The production opens on Oct. 20 and run for two weekends. 
“As soon as you say the words ‘to be or not to be,’ everyone knows you are referring to this play. There’s a reason it has remained popular for over 600 years,” said director TJ Kent, instructor of theatre.
The setting has changed somewhat. “Hamlet” takes place in the city in closer-to-modern times. But the plot remains the same.
“Hamlet is a play about death, pure and simply. Oddly, it’s the one thing we all have in common. Behind the murder mystery, behind the revenge tragedy and behind the the poetic language is a concept that everyone from 16th century Englishmen to 21st century Americans can truly relate to,” Kent said. 
In this play, Hamlet is male, but he’s played by a female – Ashley Kelley of Maynardville. Director TJ Kent isn’t making a statement with the casting. For him, it’s a matter of making good use of the talent available.
“I made the decision very early on that the gender of the actor would have nothing to do with the character he or she would be playing. I wanted to cast the best, most interesting actor for each role.  
Kent reminds theatre fans that this is not the first time genders in “Hamlet” have been cast as opposite.
“In the days of Shakespeare, all roles were played by men. Women weren’t allowed on the stage.”  
The cast includes some familiar names to the local theatre scene and some new artists. Larry Bunton is cast as Claudius. He last appeared in “Heathers: the Musical.” Autumn Leming is cast as Gertrude. Leming is a graduating musical theatre major who was last seen in “Moon Over Buffalo.” Caitlyn McCampbell is Ophelia. Her last performance was in “Heathers: The Musical.” 

Caryn Downing is Horatio. Her previous acting credits include the title role in “Peter Pan.” Ashley Lodge is Laertes. Her last performance with Walters State was “Heathers: The Musical.” 

Other cast members include John Morie, Chris Wylie, Katrina Bosse, Rebekah Frith, Thomas Batchelor, Hope Russell, Bethan Banard and Tim Rice. 
Paul Lawson is the production stage manager and Ivan Perez is the costume designer. 
Showtimes for  “Hamlet Prince of Denmark” are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27 and 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 and 28. Performances will be held in the theatre of the Judge William H. Inman Humanities Complex on the Morristown Campus. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for senior citizens and $5 for students. For reservations, call 423.585.6922 from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.