at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival

by Emilee Hatfield

In the state of Colorado, there will always be a few things to expect within the summer months. While the city of Denver offers the annual Chalk Walk, and a few other events, Boulder provides a tradition that many have come to attend every summer.The Colorado Shakespeare Festival has become very famous over the years, creating amazing productions that have received national praise. While now going on it’s 60th season it appears to have not lost it’s unique taste and professionalism. With this season’s production taking different perspectives on some of Shakespeare’s greatest works, such as a female lead Hamlet. It wasn’t a shock to discover that one of the productions this year would be Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

This play within a play follows the comedic perspective of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minors character within Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and what shenanigans they get into backstage with only remembering that a messenger called them. This play, despite not being written by Shakespeare himself, was a smart choice by the Shakespeare Festival in my eyes.

While taking some risks with the original play of Hamlet (i.e. casting the title role as a female), why not add the very show that looks through different sets of eyes? This juxtapose allows audience members two very different experiences with the same characters presenting a more “behind the scenes,” feel to something the audience believes to have known so well or may have even recently just seen.

What CSF does so brilliantly with this production is use the same actors within their production of Hamlet to reprise their roles for R & G wearing the exact same costumes which were done very well by Hugh Hanson. This choice alone is worth admission to both of CSF production of Hamlet, and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. While not wanting to give anything away, the parallels that are put into place give such amusement and comedic perfection you cannot help but laugh at the hilarity while saddened by the tragic end that ensues within the show.

The same can be said about the set design, Stephen C. Jones, brings a simple backstage set, giving you what it could look like just behind the curtain. Being the designer for Hamlet as well, I find this to continue a certain air within the production. A witty, poke to his own scenic design of Hamlet, which I find very clever. The entire production team’s talent shines through within their work and presents the theatre and production with a vision only the Shakespeare festival could produce.

The performers were at their best and both the care and energy that were put in by the actors deserve the utmost praises; specially the leading men, Michael Bouchard as Rosencrantz and Sean Scrutchins as Guildenstern. Their chemistry was very natural and their performances grip the audience’s attention not allowing us a chance to look away from the stage. Watching this genius performance it only makes me wish that I had the chance to come and see Hamlet as well.

The only complaint that comes to mind doesn’t even deal with the production itself but with CO Shakes. I would advize anyone going to the festival, the box office can be very difficult to find if you are not a regular to CU performances. There isn’t much signage for it, and can be very irritating if you do not know your way around campus. However with that being said Director Timothy Orr’s production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is wonderfully done, brilliantly performed and beautifully designed.  It is encouranging to know that even at its 60th season the Colorado Shakespeare Festival continues to be a wonderful ongoing tradition that Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is definitely worthy of being apart of it.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead continues through August 13th, for tickets call the CU Presents Box Office at 303-492-8008. or at

PHOTO CREDIT:  Jennifer Koskinen


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