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UCF students star in 'Women Playing Hamlet.' Video by Rachel Stuart & Deanna Ferrante, Central Florida Future

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In a typical 17th-century Shakespeare play, men played all of the characters, even the female ones. Now, UCF students have reversed this old Shakespeare stereotype in a local production.

Women Playing Hamlet is not your ordinary Shakespearean play.

In fact, the play turns the tragedy into a comedic affair. But what really sets it apart from its namesake is the cast. The show features only four women playing a total of 19 characters, both male and female.

The story itself follows a quirky actress, named Jessica, who struggles with being cast in the classic role of Hamlet after auditioning for Ophelia, the tragic lead’s love interest.

It took about a month to produce the play, which utilizes sparse props and furnishings, but uses an overhead projector that displays information across the back wall of the stage for the audience, offering viewers amusing insights into the characters’ dialogue. What the production lacks in an elaborate set, however, it makes up for with a cast of wacky, hilarious characters.

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Three UCF students, two actresses and one stage manager, are involved in turning the fictional Danish prince’s drama into modern, humorous entertainment.

Chloe McElroy, a junior theatre studies major, plays the lead role, Jessica. Unlike the other actresses in the play, she only has to play one character.

“I’m one character the whole time, but the rest of them are 18 different roles,” McElroy said. “I enjoyed the smallness, but also almost the bigness of the cast. Each time someone comes on stage, they’re a different character and I have to react to them as that character.”

Danielle Miller, a senior in the BFA. acting program, plays six of those different characters, two of them men.

“It’s a lot of fun, especially because the two male characters I play are very zany,” Miller said. “So, I get to play a man, but also have a little fun with it.”

The production’s only stage manager, Catherine Klemke is a senior in the BFA stage management program and said she hopes the all-female cast will attract audiences.

“I think it’s great to see how far we’ve come, and it shows that women can be just as varied and entertaining as men,” she said. “I think audiences respond well to these kinds of things.”

Klemke said the modern take on a traditional Shakespeare production was what drew her to participate in the first place.

“I think the universal themes in Shakespeare lend themselves really well to modern adaptations, and updates can keep a show relevant,” she said.

The show, presented by the Southern Winds Theatre, held its Central Florida premiere last week, but students can still catch the comedy at The Venue.

If you go:

Where: 511 Virginia Drive

When: Saturday and Monday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Cost: $16 for students

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Deanna Ferrante is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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