• Hamlet......Jonathon Plon
  • Claudius......Luther Hanson
  • Gertrude......Christine Nicholson
  • Polonia......Kathleen Poe
  • Ophelia......Julianna Camille
  • Laertes......Mitchell Mackenzie Worrell-Olson
  • Bernardo......Rosalind Smith
  • Francisco......Gillian Rains
  • Marcellus......Johnna Wood
  • Horatio......Sarah Palmero
  • Rosencrantz......Rosalind Smith
  • Guildenstern......Gillian Rains
  • Ghost......Bryce Huckaby
  • First Clown......Kathleen Poe
  • Second Clown......Rosalind Smith
  • Pirate......Johnna Wood
  • Osric......Kahla Bulls
  • First Priest......Bryce Huckaby
  • First Player......Kahla Bulls
  • Messenger......Bryce Huckaby
  • Attendant......Kelly Serena
  • Player......Kelly Serena
  • Player......Bryce Huckaby
  • Musician......Kelly Serena
  • Musician......Mitchell Mackenzie Worrell-Olson

Artistic Staff

  • Director......Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin
  • Script Adaptor......Lisa Wolpe
  • Asst. Director......Kayla Willett
  • Stage Manager/Vision Mixer......Josh Anderson
  • Scenic Designer......Shawn Weinsheink
  • Lighting Designer......Shawn Weinsheink
  • Costume Designer......Nicole Sivell
  • Properties Designer......Scott Bailey & Cast
  • Dramaturgs......Jessica Sager & Sam Heidelberg
  • Fight Choreographer......Thomas Block
  • Fight Captain......Julianna Camille
  • ASM......Julianna Camille
  • ASM......Kelly Serena
  • ASM......Joy Gee
  • Crew......Cast
  • Camera 1/ASM......Erika McCall
  • Camera 1......Tracy Shearer
  • Camera 2......Justin Reedy
  • Camera 3......Scott Bailey
  • Audio Consultant......Kirt Shearer
  • Video Consultant......James Hill
  • Sound Technician......Neshele Wesley
  • Sound Technician......John Carey


Synopsis by Jessica Sager, Dramaturg

A synopsis of Hamlet as produced by the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival

Dramaturg's Notes by Jessica Sager, Dramaturg

Hamlet, written between 1599 and 1601, is Shakespeare’s best-known play. Many have described it as his greatest work, if not the greatest play in Western literature. Written almost exactly in the middle of Shakespeare’s career, Hamlet is unarguably his longest work, with “uncut” productions running for more than four hours.

Our Hamlet will not run quite that long, however. The play is frequently cut and edited - or, I should say, versions of the play are frequently cut and edited. During Shakespeare’s lifetime, at least two different versions of Hamlet existed - the First, “Bad” Quarto, and the much longer Second Quarto. Shortly after Shakespeare’s death, yet another version of Hamlet was published in the First Folio. Presumably Shakespeare’s own company had to make choices about which lines to keep and which to cut, and theatremakers and publishers have been making difficult editorial and creative decisions ever since. The Hamlet you will see tonight is fast-paced and action-packed, yet you will also meet complex characters and hear some of theatre’s most famous lines.

What you will not see are Renaissance costumes or set pieces. Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most timeless plays; the story can be told - and has been told - in almost any time or place. Just a few examples include Hamlets in modern-day Africa, Tsarist Russia, and medieval Europe. Our Hamlet takes place in our own time, with the COVID-19 pandemic looming over the characters and driving them further into isolation. Our Hamlet’s travels, first from Wittenberg and then the road to England, are delayed by safety restrictions rather than the slowness of Renaissance travel.

We have, of course, taken some creative liberties with our Hamlet’s Denmark. While there are still many parallels between Shakespeare’s deadly court and modern politics, the role of royalty has certainly changed. Denmark has one of the oldest monarchies in the world; its current monarch is Queen Margarethe II. Today Denmark has a constitutional monarchy and is a parliamentary democracy, meaning the monarchy has limited power in government. The modern monarchy is also an inherited monarchy, rather than an elective one as it was in Shakespeare’s day. In our Hamlet, however, the election still exists, making Claudius’ reign legal if not ethical.

Elsinore, known as Kronborg Castle, is a real place that welcomes visitors from around the world. Performances of Hamlet have been staged at the castle since 1816, and visitors can enjoy Hamlet-themed activities to this day. Kronborg is also home to Hamletscenen, Denmark’s own Shakespeare Festival.

Hamlet’s Danish origins are medieval, if not older. The first known written references to Hamlet (or “Amleth”) are from Scandanavian mythology. As with many of his plays, Shakespeare took inspiration from earlier sources while also creating a unique story and characters. Fratricide, marriage to one’s sister-in-law, feigned madness, and even two treacherous friends are part of the early Hamlet stories. During the Renaissance, at least one other playwright probably wrote about the Danish prince, but that play, called the Ur-Hamlet, has been lost to time. We know little about it except that it featured a ghost and may have been written by Thomas Kyd.

While we know next to nothing about the Ur-Hamlet, we do know Shakespeare’s Hamlet enjoyed success from the beginning. Shakespeare’s contemporary and colleague, the great actor Richard Burbage, played Hamlet, and Shakespeare himself may have played the ghost. Amateur performances of the play took place during Shakespeare’s lifetime, including a 1607 performance by sailors on their way to the West Indies! Apparently, the ship’s captain found the play successful in keeping his crew from less wholesome pursuits. In the 400 years since, countless actors - including many women - have taken on the role of Hamlet. Famous Hamlets include such diverse talents as Sarah Bernhardt, Lawrence Olivier, and, more recently, David Tennant at the RSC. The play has had an immeasurable cultural impact both inside and outside the theatre. From psychological theories to famous paintings to Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which is now a classic in its own right, Hamlet has inspired a vast cultural and artistic output that continues to this day.

The great thing about Hamlet is that no matter how many outstanding actors take on the role, there are always new discoveries to be made. For centuries, brilliant directors and scholars have pored over the play, and yet its mysteries remain, asking to be solved (or left unanswered) anew with every single production. Great creative minds have given us their own takes on the play, yet there are countless more stories to be told. Whether this is your first Hamlet or your hundredth, I guarantee you will discover something new about the play and quite possibly yourself this evening. Welcome to Hamlet.

Further Reading

The Danish Royal Family: The Danish Monarchy - Front Page | Kongehuset.

The Real Elsinore: Kronborg Castle - Palaces and Gardens - Kongelige Slotte

Theatre at Elsinore: Open-air theater experiences - HamletScenen