In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the cast of I Hate Hamlet at 2nd Star Productions, meet Carole Long.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you in the past year on local stages?
I’m Carole Long. Last year, I played Muriel Bingham in PGLT’s production of The Fox on the Fairway.
Why did you want to be part of I Hate Hamlet?
First, I love working with 2nd Star; this is my 15th production with them, and every one has been a joy. Second, I fell head over heels in love with Hamlet the first time I read the play in 11th grade and have never gotten over that. Having faced the challenge of playing at least one deeply conflicted character onstage, I get the allure and the terror of taking on a role of that magnitude and depth. Seeing that process treated in such a fun way but with the respect it is due is very appealing. Of course, as a theater nut, I also love plays about actors and theater.
What does the show have to say to audiences of all ages?
Challenge yourself! Have people in your life who encourage you to grow and learn. To be more, to be better than you are right now, you have to take risks and expose yourself to new things. And don’t be afraid to fail. Unless you are a daredevil defying the laws of physics and nature, you won’t die if you fail. And if you learn something valuable from your failure, then it isn’t a failure at all.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to your character?
I play Lillian Troy, the agent of the main character, Andrew Rally. She is a strong, savvy, older woman who has made a success of her life in a male-dominated profession. She cares very much for Andrew, sees his untapped potential, and is willing to push and challenge him to achieve that potential because he can.
I love Lillian’s sense of humor, her affection for Andrew and Deirdre, her excellent B.S. detector, and her refusal to indulge in self-pity. And [spoiler alert] who hasn’t secretly wished for one last encounter?
Have you appeared in other productions of I Hate Hamlet before and who did you play and how is this production different and unique?
What is your favorite scene in the show that you are not in and why? What is your favorite scene that you are in and why?
The duel at the end of Act 1 is amazing! Fred and Zak are really fun to watch when they are simply arguing about/discussing Andrew’s situation, so when they do it with swordplay thrown into the mix, it just goes over the top. The audiences won’t believe what they are seeing.
My favorite Lillian scene is her meeting with Barrymore’s ghost. I get to play a range of emotions and show the audience so much about who Lillian was and is. Her final moments with Barrymore are lovely and (if I get it right) create something special and unexpected.
Which character in the show is most like you and why?
That’s a tough one. I guess I relate the most to Andrew, actually, because I really do want to challenge myself but am usually scared half to death I’ll screw up. Of course, I am also an old lady, like Lillian, so there’s that…
What do you admire most about your fellow castmates’ performances?
Where do I begin? Fred is so perfect in this role. He is every bit the larger-than-life Barrymore! The voice, the ego, the sexuality, the charm, the talent—he imbues his performance with all of those qualities, and [spoiler alert] he’s a pretty good dancer to boot. And Malarie, who is a smart and talented young woman, takes a bubble-headed girl who is a really BAD actress and makes her funny and lovable. Daniel just blows me away, too. He finds so many ways to be obnoxious and clueless and really, really funny, all while working in a second language. I love the way Zak makes Andrew earnest and scared and frustrated but also defensive about his past work; he pulls off a mighty tricky balancing act and all without a net. Nicole manages to make Felicia, who could have been pushy and brassy and crass and just awful, into someone the audience can believe would become friends with Deirdre and Andrew.
How did you prepare for your role and what were the biggest challenges you faced and how did you resolve them?
At my age, the biggest challenge of any role is simply learning and remembering the lines! I practice, practice, practice, then practice some more.
Lillian’s physicality was the most difficult thing for me. She has a great deal of mental strength, but her health is not good. Finding a believable way to maintain her vitality but also show the effects of a serious respiratory disorder—beyond the obvious cough—was challenging. I observed some older people with respiratory disorders and recalled my experiences with a serious bout of bacterial pneumonia many, many years ago. I hope it comes across to the audience.
What was the best advice or suggestions your director gave you about playing your character?
The advice most helpful to me was how to project a more youthful attitude/posture for the scene with Barrymore’s ghost. I also appreciated the occasional kick in the behind regarding timing. [chuckles sheepishly]
Why should audience goers bring their families to see I Hate Hamlet?
It’s a funny show with well-drawn characters and a good message about the risks and rewards of accepting a challenge. Not to mention a terrific swordfight. I’d consider it PG-rated and wouldn’t bring little ones, but I suspect teens would relate quite easily to Andrew’s situation with Deirdre. Fans of theater will appreciate Andrew’s dilemma, and people who have never done theater can get a little insight into the process. Lovers of Shakespeare will enjoy the quotes and references and the respect for and appreciation of Shakespeare. Plus there’s romance, a séance, comedy, and a major SWORDFIGHT! Who wouldn’t want to see all that in one show?
I Hate Hamlet plays from February 6-22, 2015 at 2nd Star Productions performing at Bowie Playhouse – 16500 White Marsh Park Drive, in Bowie, MD. For tickets, call (410) 757-5700 or (301) 832-4819, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of ‘I Hate Hamlet’ at 2nd Star Productions: Part 2: Zak Zeeks.