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Resolve to add culture in 2012, start with Hamlet

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Former Lake Oswego resident Butch Flowers portrays Hamlet in Northwest Classical Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s tragedy of the same name.  “Hamlet” runs through Jan. 22 at the Shoebox Theater in Portland. Tickets can be ordered online at nwctc.org or by calling 971-244-3740.

If one of your resolutions for the new year is to add more culture in your life, you are in luck - you still have time to see Northwest Classical Theatre Company's (NWCTC) production of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' through Jan. 22.

The popular tragedy stars former Lake Oswego residents Butch Flowers as Hamlet and Tom Walton as Laertes, Ophelia's brother. The two have been friends since their Hallinan school days many years ago.

How they became involved with NWCTC involved as much fate as any Shakespearean play.

'I've known Tom for about 10 years,' said NWCTC's artistic director Grant Turner. 'He worked at the Lake Oswego Petco and I moved over from another store. I told him about my fledgling theater company … he told me he had a friend who was interested in acting.'

The friend was Flowers, who worked at a nearby bakery and often dropped into the store to visit with Walton. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Turner founded NWCTC in 1999 for 'the most selfish of reasons.'

'I felt at the time that no one was presenting plays that I wanted to see or in ways I thought they should be performed,' he said. 'I wanted to perform plays for their artistic merit or for their entertainment value, not for their ticket selling ability. I wanted to present plays in an unadorned, accessible way that mirrored not only my artistic sensibilities, but my belief that theater is about communicating with an audience first and foremost. And finally, I wanted to have fun.'

Hamlet is one of Turner's favorite plays and this marks the third time NWCTC has presented the popular work. Alana Byington directs.

'It's easy to go back to this well,' said Turner. 'This is a good role for Butch. He is an intellectual. He is wry and ironic and has a hint of melancholy.'

NWCTC makes its home in the Shoebox Theater, 2110 S.E. 10th Ave. in Portland, an intimate theater with just 38 seats.

'You can't fake it,' said Turner. 'It's a fun performance space and at any given time the audience is just four feet away from the actors. The performance is honest and sincere, and if you sit in the front row the actors may step on your toes or brush against you as they enter.

'If you feel daunted or put off by Shakespeare by previous experiences onstage or scared from reading Shakespeare in high school, give this production a try,' said Turner. 'It is very accessible. It has no-nonsense directing … we let the words do the work. It is easy to understand.'

'Hamlet' runs through Jan. 22 with 7:30 p.m. performances Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sunday performances.

Tickets are $20 and $18 for students and seniors. They can be ordered by calling 971-244-3740 or online at nwctc.org.



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