Memories of Shakespeare at The Roxy

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 8, 2011

Dr. Ted Jones has appeared in over thirty Roxy productions, including CATS (Old Deuteronomy), POE UNEARTHED, for which he played his Scottish harp, Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT (Amiens) and, most recently the harper in AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS.  This spring, Dr. Jones returns to the Roxy stage for HAMLET and BEA(U)TIFUL IN THE EXTREME.

Recently I borrowed my cousin’s digital videorecorder.  She never could get it to work, so I offered to make DVDs of her camcorder videos of her grandchildren if I could use the DVR to transfer some of my old videotapes to disc.

As it happened, one of the first tapes I converted was of the 1989 Roxy production of ROMEO AND JULIET starring Eric Douglas, the late son of actor Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas’ brother.  The Roxy went all out to give Eric a beautiful period showcase, and it was the first of four Shakespeare plays I’ve done at the Roxy.  As the villain Tybalt, I had few speeches but did get to duel Romeo. I had taken a stage fencing class in acting school and even had the epees (swords) we needed for the fight.  Eric and I spent several hours choreographing and rehearsing the duel in the parking lot of the “Rodeway Inn”…now the Riverview (we’ve needed rehearsal space at the Roxy for a long time.)  I also played the harp backstage to accompany the love scenes, surely a first for the actor playing Tybalt.  The day we opened there was incessant rain (sound familiar?); and shortly after the start of the play, large chunks of the rain-soaked ceiling began to fall on the stage, barely missing the actors (we’ve needed a new performing space at the Roxy for a long time, too).  Lots of people came to the show, curious to see Kirk Douglas’ son.  I think there were about 200 people crammed into the theatre for the final performance, the day my video was recorded from the balcony.

In the current production of HAMLET, I play Marcellus, another man of few words (he’s one of the characters who sees Hamlet’s father’s ghost at the start of the play).  However, there are some notable differences in this production from the Verona of 1989.  For HAMLET, the set is simple and costuming, contemporary; it’s the words and actions of the characters that take center stage.  And rather than a group of community theatre amateurs and a “star,” the cast is an excellent assembly of professionally trained actors able to bring their full energies and practiced skills to the play.  If you’ve never seen Shakespeare before, or think of it as actors standing and giving long, boring speeches, you’re in for a surprise:  An evening full of passion, humor, and variety, along with some of Shakespeare’s most well-know quotes.  We’re working hard to give you a beautiful show, so join us at the Roxy for HAMLET!

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