Hamlet Homecoming (sort of…)

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 9, 2011

Brandon Meeks has previously appeared in productions of Henry V (Bardolph/Burgundy), Urinetown: The Musical (Lockstock), Romeo and Juliet (Romeo) and The Winter’s Tale. This spring, Brandon makes his Roxy debut in Hamlet (Horatio) and Bea(u)tiful in the Extreme.

Coming here to Clarksville came on the heels of a long-awaited visit back to my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Though I was racked by a long farewell to my girlfriend, the tinge of lightness in the early spring Kentucky air awoke me to the infinite potential of life. Even coming home to my Great Dane (yes, I see the irony in this) Arthur, partially lame from a bone tumor, couldn’t fully dilute the positive energy that came from being on familiar ground. It is a thing of wonder that I have never yet experienced in New York.

After a short period of time spent with family and friends, four days to be exact, I made my trek down to Clarksville. I was amazed at how warm and inviting the weather was. Even despite the rain, I loved being able to see and smell the grass and trees. Those in Clarksville may take this little grace for granted, but for this reluctant New York City resident, it is hard to keep in mind that rain is a natural process for growth and renewal, and not a vain attempt to wash layers of garbage off the sidewalk. The pastoral sights that moved quickly past me in my parents’ SUV were just the medicine I needed after a gloomy Brooklyn winter, and almost took my mind off of my sweet Arthur. Almost.

Before I go any further, I must say that Hamlet is my favorite play in all of Bill Shakespeare’s canon. This will be my third time performing the play, and my excitement to have the opportunity yet again is understated, at best, so as to keep from blowing out my heart and lungs. Let me just put it this way. I would do this play for free. But don’t tell the Roxy. A man has to play hard to get sometimes.

As soon as I reached the cast house, I made my way inside, meeting Keith Panzarella, known in the make-believe world as Laertes, and Greg Pember, the Dane himself (Danes again, good grief). As I said goodbye to my parents and became settled in to my new surroundings, I realized how large and quiet the house was compared to my Brooklyn apartment. Paradise. Even now, with the addition of rehearsals, it has remained a relaxed atmosphere that I very much enjoy going back to after work. Or play. Whichever you prefer to call it.

So those have been my days. Playing during the day, relaxing at night. I can’t even dream of complaining. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to drive like a demon to see a sick Dane. And I don’t mean Hamlet.

– Brandon

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