Michael Urie Reprises Leading Role in HAMLET; STC Offers Free Performances
Free For All, one of the capital's cherished annual traditions, will return for its 29th annual summer to Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC), offering two weeks of free performances of the Company's 2018 acclaimed production of Shakespeare's Hamlet starring Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) as Hamlet. The production will run at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F St NW) from July 10-July 21, providing more than 12,000 people the chance to see the play free of charge.
"After playing Hamlet in Michael Kahn's thrilling new production at Shakespeare Theater Company last year I felt, as I'm sure many Hamlets before me have felt, that I merely scratched the surface," Urie explains about resuming the role as the doomed Danish prince.
Shakespeare's classic revenge tragedy is both kinetic and contemporary. Set in a surveillance state Denmark, the characters tap cellphones and spy on each other with cameras, in their most intimate and vulnerable moments of grief, agony and despair. The political machinations of this connected and corrupt Elsinore underscore the domestic tragedy at the heart of the play. Even with the ghost of his father haunting television monitors calling for his son to avenge his death, Hamlet cannot trust his closest friends to uncover the truth about his father's murder.
STC Artistic Associate Craig Baldwin will direct Shakespeare's great tragedy, remounting the lauded Michael Kahn-directed production. "Michael Kahn has been a mentor to me ever since I trained under him at Juilliard many years ago," Baldwin explains. "It is a real honor to bring this bracingly astute and vibrantly modern production back as a gift to the people of D.C. I also could not be more thrilled to work with Michael Urie again, who brings a razor-sharp wit to Hamlet, like a man who might fight off his demons with the power of wordplay alone. It's an exhilarating interpretation of the role in an exhilarating production."
Coming fresh off of a celebrated Broadway run of Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song, Urie has recently received the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award for his positive and complex portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters in works such as Torch Song and Ugly Betty. Urie is excited to return to D.C. "Now I'm a little older, more rested, and supremely grateful for the chance to carry the skull, sport the jester costume and 'speak the speech' once more for STC's fabulous FreeForAll audiences."
The Free For All Hamlet production will see many familiar faces return to reprise their roles: Urie will be joined by an international, award-winning cast including ROBERT JOY (King Charles III) as Polonius; ALAN COX (Translations on Broadway) as Claudius; FEDERICO RODRIGUEZ as Horatio; MADELEINE POTTER (An Ideal Husband on Broadway) as Gertrude, KELSEY RAINWATER as Guildenstern, GREGORY WOODDELL as Osric, DAVID BRYAN JACKSON as Voltemand/Priest, CHRIS GENEBACH as Barnard/Lucianus, LISE BRUNEAU as Player Queen/Cornelia and STC Affiliated Artist KEITH BAXTER will pull triple duty as the Ghost, the Player King and the Gravedigger. Joining the cast is AYANA WORKMAN as Ophelia, PAUL DEO, JR as Laertes, TIM NICOLAI as Rosencrantz, KRYSTEL LUCAS as Marcellus/Fortinbras/Prologue, as well as ensemble members GRACE BROCKWAY, OMAR D. CRUZ, MICHAEL HALLER, MEGAN HUYNH, JOE MUCCIOLO, KEANU ROSS-CABRERA and JEFF ALLEN YOUNG.
Each summer, with the help of a group of community-minded sponsors, the Shakespeare Theatre Company presents two weeks of FREE performances of a Shakespearean classic. There are several ways to get tickets:
SUBSCRIBE: Those who subscribe to the 2019/20 season by une 30 get advance access to tickets and reserved seats. www.shakespearetheatre.org/tickets-and-events/subscriptions-2019-2020-season/
ONLINE LOTTERY: For each performance, a select number of seats are given away to lucky lottery winners. The online lottery will open Tuesday, July 9.
GET IN LINE INSTEAD OF ONLINE: Every day STC will make at least 200 tickets available to the public in our ticket line at Sidney Harman Hall beginning two hours prior to curtain. Limit is two tickets per person. Remember to get there early! The line usually starts forming about four hours before curtain up.
BECOME A FRIEND OF FREE FOR ALL: Friends of Free For All are a group of generous donors who play a critical role in ensuring the continuation of this time-honored D.C. tradition. They support the production with gifts that allow STC to present live theatre for free and in so doing, receive wonderful benefits such as guaranteed premium orchestra seating and access to the Patrons Lounge in Sidney Harman Hall with complimentary snacks and drinks. Please see for more information: www.shakespearetheatre.org/support/ways-to-give/special-giving-opportunities/#foffa
The Shakespeare Theatre Company's Free For All is a much-loved Washington tradition, offering free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the general public each summer. Started in 1991 to bring free Shakespeare to new and diverse audiences in the Washington metropolitan area, the Free For All presented Shakespeare under the stars at the Carter Barron Amphitheater. In an effort to make Shakespeare completely accessible for all residents of the D.C. Metro area, the Free For All was brought to downtown D.C. in 2009 and now resides at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall. To date, the Free For All has reached nearly 700,000 area residents and counting.
Free For All is a highlight of Washington's theatre season, a traditional outing that attracts the city's most diverse audience. Championed by Shakespeare Theatre Company Artistic Director Michael Kahn and founding chairman R. Robert Linowes, and made possible with invaluable support from the Washington Post, Philip L. Graham Fund and a committed group of community-minded sponsors, the Free For All proved an enormous success its first year, attracting more than 2,500 theatregoers each night. Succeeding summers have seen the Free For All build on its early promise, with audiences flocking to see some of Shakespeare's greatest plays-All's Well That Ends Well, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Henry V and King Lear-performed by the Shakespeare Theatre Company's actors and such guest artists as Sabrina LeBeauf, Kelly McGillis and Harry Hamlin.
Citizens for Shakespeare has helped thousands of area students and community members gain access to Shakespeare's plays. The Shakespeare Theatre Company Free For All's unique contribution to the community was recognized with The Washington Post Distinguished Service Award in 1992 and the 1997 Public Humanities Award presented by the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C.
Former Chair of the National Endowment of the Arts Jane Alexander, a frequent attendee at Free For All productions, enthuses about the program's importance to Washington: "I remember once when I was at the Free For All, there was a couple sitting next to me with a very, very young child, and I began to talk to them and I asked: 'Why are you here?' And they said, 'Where else would we have the opportunity to introduce our child to Shakespeare and be able to afford it?'" Alexander sums up the sentiments shared by Kahn, the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the many generous individuals, foundations and corporations who make the Free For All possible each year: "The Free For All is a wonderful success for everybody involved...not just for the Shakespeare Theatre Company, but for the entire city."