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Mississippi College

Hamlet Comes to Aven Little Theater at Mississippi College

February 10, 2014

One of William Shakespeare’s finest tragedies, “Hamlet” comes to Mississippi College’s Aven Little Theater for a series of productions.

Part of MC’s annual Shakespeare Festival, the show is co-produced by the university’s Communication Department and English Department. Its run on the Clinton campus is February 27-March 2.

Published in 1603, the play tells the story of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. The main action line speaks to Hamlet’s revenge for his father’s death. The Mississippi College student production is a shorter adaptation of Shakespeare’s work that spans four hours.

The show features the 90-minute adaptation by MC alumna Marianne Savell.

Hamlet remains one of her favorite Shakespeare plays. “It’s got humor, ghosts, antiquated love, parents messing with their kids, and what the kids are doing in response, murder by accident,” Savell said. In essence, it’s got all the right ingredients for a great story, she said. “It is epic, emotional and smart.”

There are two film versions of “Hamlet,” including the 1996 movie starring Julie Christie, Kate Winslet and Robin Williams.

This year’s show is dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. George Pittman, the festival’s founder, who got the event started in 1977. The retired professor passed away on New Year’s Day, 2014. He served as an English professor at Mississippi College from 1977 to 2002.

“This year’s show is somewhat bittersweet, because of the recent passing of our beloved founder, Dr. Pittman,” says MC communication professor Phyllis Seawright, the play’s director. “So many memories hit me every day as we work through the script.”

Seawright was part of the Shakespeare Festival on the Clinton campus as an MC undergraduate decades ago. She performed in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” during the festival’s second season in 1978.

“This is a great cast, and they are all working hard to honor Dr. Pittman’s memory,” she said.

Seawright is getting help from student director Kim Dingess as the cast steps up its rehearsals to get ready for opening night.

In the Clinton campus production, MC freshman Charlie Bell of Birmingham, Alabama plays the iconic title character of Hamlet. MC senior Lexie Smith of Lexington plays Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother.

The Mississippi College Tribal Players cast is performing the tragedy during an important year for Shakespeare fans. This marks the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth. There will be a birthday celebration closer to the actual date, April 23.

Presenting the play in the Aven Little Theater will make the audience feel as though they are right on stage with the actors, Seawright said.

Performances are:

--Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

--Feb. 28 at noon and 7 p.m.

--March 1 at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

--March 2 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $5 for students, MC employees and senior adults, and $10 for general admission. Groups of 10 or more pay $4 each. The ticket reservation line is 601.925.3935.

Photo: Mississippi College freshman Charlie Bell of Birmingham, Ala. Charlie plays the part of Hamlet in the MC production Feb. 27-March 2, 2014.