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HAMLET, Starring Amaka Umeh, Begins Previews at the Stratford Festival Today

This fast-paced production of the Shakespearean mystery-thriller is set in modern day.

HAMLET, Starring Amaka Umeh, Begins Previews at the Stratford Festival Today

A royal family crisis unfolds on stage at the Festival Theatre as Hamlet begins its run today. Making Festival history is Amaka Umeh, the first Black actor to play Hamlet at Stratford.

This fast-paced production of the Shakespearean mystery-thriller set in modern day is directed by Peter Pasyk, with Set Designer Patrick Lavender, Costume Designer Michelle Bohn, Lighting Designer Kimberly Purtell and Composer and Sound Designer Richard Feren.

"Hamlet has captivated audiences for centuries because it holds a mirror up to the audience and shows us who we are," says Pasyk. "At its heart it remains a mystery because it reveals more about ourselves than itself. It is a tragedy that touches on profound questions about why we live. Prince Hamlet is placed in a moral quandary when his father's ghost demands vengeance against his brother who now wears the crown and who, having married the widowed queen, is now not only Hamlet's uncle but also his stepfather."

Amaka Umeh as Hamlet is joined by Graham Abbey as the King of Denmark, Hamlet's uncle, Claudius; Maev Beaty as the Queen, Hamlet's mother, Gertrude; Austin Eckert as Laertes; Jakob Ehman as Horatio; Ijeoma Emesowum as Guildenstern; Andrea Rankin as Ophelia; Michael Spencer-Davis as Polonius; and Norman Yeung as Rosencrantz; with Hilary Adams, Bola Aiyeola, Celia Aloma, isi bhakhomen, Laura Condlln, Rachel Jones, Matthew Kabwe, John Kirkpatrick, Kevin Kruchkywich, Josue Laboucane, Ngabo Nabea, Anthony Santiago and Tyrone Savage.

Hamlet has its official opening on June 2, with a red-carpet gala performance marking the Festival's 70th season. It runs until October 28 in the Festival Theatre. Tickets are available at or by calling 1.800.567.1600.

Production support is generously provided by Phyllis & Robert Couzin, and by John & Therese Gardner.

This production is dedicated to the memory of Brent Carver and Christopher Plummer.

The 2022 season also features Chicago, The Miser, Little Women, Richard III, All's Well That Ends Well, Death and the King's Horseman, Every Little Nookie, Hamlet-911 and 1939. For more information, visit

CAST (in alphabetical order)

Graham Abbey Claudius

Hilary Adams Player

Bola Aiyeola Understudy

Celia Aloma Player Queen

Maev Beaty Gertrude

isi bhakhomen Player (Prologue)

Laura Condlln Standby Gertrude

Austin Eckert Laertes

Jakob Ehman Horatio

Ijeoma Emesowum Guildenstern

Rachel Jones Player, Gertrude's assistant

Matthew Kabwe Ghost of King Hamlet, Gravedigger

John Kirkpatrick Reynaldo

Kevin Kruchkywich Barnardo

Josue Laboucane Francisco, Lucianus

Ngabo Nabea Player

Andrea Rankin Ophelia

Anthony Santiago Player King, Priest

Tyrone Savage Marcellus

Michael Spencer-Davis Polonius

Amaka Umeh Hamlet

Norman Yeung Rosencrantz


Mary Jay Soprano Herald Trumpet

Janice Owens Bass Herald Trumpet

David Campion Parade Snare Drum


Director Peter Pasyk

Set Designer Patrick Lavender

Costume Designer Michelle Bohn

Lighting Designer Kimberly Purtell

Composer and Sound Designer Richard Feren

Supervising Fight Director Geoff Scovell

Movement and Intimacy Director Alix Sideris

Producer David Auster

Casting Director Beth Russell

Creative Planning Director Jason Miller

Assistant Director Bryn Kennedy

Assistant Designer Madeline Ius

Assistant Lighting Designers Sruthi Suresan, Imogen Wilson

Assistant Sound Designer Adam Campbell

Associate Fight Director David Chinchilla

Assistant Fight Director Jennifer Dzialoszynski

Fight Captain Tyrone Savage

Vocal Captain Andrea Rankin

Stage Manager Brian Scott

Assistant Stage Managers Alice Ferreyra Galliani, Tiffany Fraser, Maxwell T. Wilson

Production Assistant Ciaran Brenneman

Production Stage Manager Elizabeth McDermott

Technical Director Robbin Cheesman

Photo credit: David Hou

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