The Nashville Shakespeare Festival kicks off its 20th anniversary season this weekend with a winter production of Hamlet in Belmont University’s Troutt Theater. The production, the Festival’s first public winter production since 2002 and its first as a professional theater in residence at Belmont, “promises to be friendly to first-time viewers and intriguing to the seasoned Shakespeare fan,” said Hamlet director Denice Hicks.
The cast, which includes four Belmont students in addition to seven professional actors, will present their characters such that each is focused on helping Hamlet tell his story. This is the first time that the Festival has worked with Belmont on a production, and by making the Troutt Theater its new winter home, the Festival will be able to further its mission of not only entertaining, but also educating.
“We have partnered with several universities and colleges across the mid-South,” explained the Festival’s executive director, Nancy VanReece. “However, Belmont is the first winter home for a consistent collaboration as a theater in residence. We are already planning for 2009 and 2010 programming there.”
“We are honored to be among the other professional companies using this beautiful facility,” added Hicks, “and we are excited to incorporate the Belmont students and faculty into our production.”
Belmont University theater department chairman Paul Gatrell designed the set, adjunct professor and Tony Award-winner Franne Lee is the costume designer and MTSU professor Anne Willingham is responsible for the lighting design. Performances, beginning Jan. 17, will be held Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m., through Feb. 2. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Nashville Shakespeare Festival at (615) 255- 2273 or visit www.nashvilleshakes.org.