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Despite its name — ‘I Hate Hamlet’ — audience members may walk out of the Station Theatre’s new play with a greater appreciation for Shakespeare. It debuts tonight at the Urbana theater and runs for the next three weeks. Here are three things you need to know about the play, courtesy Anthony Zilis:

1

It follows the story of an early-’90s television actor, Andrew Rally, who is hired to play Hamlet in “Shakespeare in the Park,” but there’s a catch: Andrew hates Shakespeare.

“You have the character, Andrew, who plays the role of Hamlet at ‘Shakespeare in the Park,’ and he’s not so sold on it” director KT Burke said. “He says he hates Hamlet. During the show, you get to see Andrew learn to appreciate the show, but also you get to see Andrew gain some confidence in his acting ability throughout the show with the help of the actor John Barrymore, who is an actual actor from back in the day who’s brought back from the dead to help Andrew play Hamlet.”

2

The play was written in 1991, and Burke and her team leaned into that fact. Local composer Noah Scott Larson created some of the original music to fit that time period.

“Since it was written in 1991, it’s a bit dated with some of the references and things like that, so we decided to date it in the summer of 1991, so we’ve included some ’90s elements in terms of the design and some of the music,” Burke said.

Larson “specifically used ’90s, late-’80s sounds and tones throughout the play. There’s a big sword fight at the end of Act One, and that was completely original music. There’s a romantic melody at the end of Act Two, Scene One that he wrote as well. It kind of sounds like a ’90s-sitcom-themed piano.”

3

Whether you love Shakespeare or hate him, the play is for you.

“It’s theater where you can go and have a night of fun and you go home, and maybe you think a little bit, but it’s really just for sake of enjoyment of the theater and appreciation of the theater, especially because the character, Andrew, does learn to appreciate theater throughout the play,” Burke said. “I think it’s great for anyone with any interest in theater or Shakespeare, or no interest at all; you can really find enjoyment in it.”