RTC staged an INCREDIBLE production of Hamlet - which played from 4/26 - 5/20/-07, and I am sooo happy I got out there to see it! The entire cast was absolutely brilliant, and Joseph gave a real tour-de-force of a performance as the Melancholy Dane! See all the wonderful happenings below:


Karyl Lynn Burns, Joseph Fuqua, and Jenny Sullivan with the four awards Rubicon won for Hamlet. 

Joseph Fuqua, cool in shades, won for his performance of the lead role in Rubicon’s Hamlet. 
These photos were posted here - courtesy of:  indysb1's photostream  http://flickr.com/search/?q=Joseph%20Fuqua&w=8328476%40N02



Rubicon Theatre honored with 7 Indy Awards

On Monday, May 21st Rubicon Theatre Company was honored to receive seven awards at the Indy Awards presentation at Center Stage Theatre in Santa Barbara. Critics and columnists from The Independent, the Santa Barbara News-Press, Backstage West and the L.A. Times who live in the Tri-Counties area presented awards to performers, directors and technicians based on achievement sans categories and nominees. The 13-year old awards ceremony was hosted by the area’s weekly arts and entertainment paper, The Independent.

Rubicon’s seven honorees this year included: James O’Neil, for his direction of The Diary of Anne Frank, Jenny Sullivan, for her direction of Hamlet; Conor Lovett, for his performance in The Good Thief; Bruce Weitz, for his performance in The Diary of Anne Frank; James O’Neil, Alison Brie and Joseph Fuqua, for their performances in Hamlet.

Hamlet, the 2nd Shakespeare piece offered by Rubicon Theatre in a decade of work, garnered many accolades for Rubicon Theatre’s first company member: “How noble in reason and faculties is actor Joseph Fuqua.” – Los Angeles Times


Joseph does a brilliant star turn in the role of Shakespeare's Melancholy Dane in RTC's current production!!!  See details below:


Joseph Fuqua in the title role and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as 'The Actor' in "Hamlet".

Joseph Fuqua in the title role and James O'Neil as King Claudius in "Hamlet".

Joseph Fuqua in the title role and Stephanie Zimbalist as Queen Gertrude in "Hamlet".

Joseph Fuqua in the title role andRemi Sandri as Laertes in "Hamlet".


This year give Mom a classic gift: HAMLET
With so many shows already sold out Rubicon Theatre has added a special Sunday night performance of the world’s most celebrated play.
Photo by Martin S. Fuentes, Brooks Institute of Photography

7:00 pm on Sunday, the 13th.
Call (805) 667-2900 NOW for tickets!
Or Click Here to Reserve Online.


The press just can’t stop talking about this show:

“Get thee to HAMLET! Joseph Fuqua delivers a star turn as the emotionally torn Danish prince…What a piece of work is HAMLET. How noble in reason and infinite in faculties is actor Joseph Fuqua…Fuqua delivers the royal goods in a performance as expressive as it is spontaneous. Fuqua seems born for Hamlet.” – Los Angeles Times

“Fuqua is ripe for the role…radiating intelligence and a singeing wit.”
- Ventura County Star

Photo by Martin S. Fuentes, Brooks Institute of Photography

“Joseph Fuqua turns in a masterful performance. Fuqua is superb in the complex role.”
- Santa Barbara Independent

"World class…a thrilling success…leaves you wanting more!"
- Santa Barbara News Press

"…a stunningly masterful production!"
- Tolucan Times



HAMLET Must End May 20th!

Only a few performances left with seats still available…so NOW is the time to discover why Hamlet is referred to as “the greatest play ever written.”

Call (805) 667-2900 NOW for tickets!
Or Click Here to Reserve Online.





Joseph Fuqua Hits the Mark as the Prince of Denmark

Playing through May 20, 2007
Call (805) 667-2900 NOW for tickets!
Or click here to reserve online

“Get thee to HAMLET! Joseph Fuqua delivers a star turn as the emotionally torn Danish prince…What a piece of work is HAMLET. How noble in reason and infinite in faculties is actor Joseph Fuqua…Fuqua delivers the royal goods in a performance as expressive as it is spontaneous. Fuqua seems born for Hamlet.”
-- Los Angeles Times

“Fuqua is ripe for the role…radiating intelligence and a singeing wit.”
-- Ventura County Star

“Joseph Fuqua turns in a masterful performance. Fuqua is superb in the complex role.”
-- Santa Barbara Independent


Photo Credit: Martin S. Fuentes, Brooks Institute of Photography
Left to right: Remi Sandri, James O’Neil, Stephanie Zimbalist, Joshua Wolf Coleman and Joseph Fuqua.


His face is familiar. And yet, while you’re sure you know him, you’re not sure when or where you met.

Joseph Fuqua (pronounced FEW-QUAY) has appeared on Rubicon Theatre Company’s stage sixteen times in the last eight years, playing a variety of parts.

In his work with Rubicon, he has lived on a drought-ridden ranch in the Midwest, attended tea parties in England, driven a bus in Mexico and performed concerts in Vienna.


Importance of Being Earnest
The Rainmaker


Joseph has recently taken up residence in Elsinore Castle, where he is performing one of the greatest roles in English history, Hamlet. In spite of the complexities of Hamlet’s themes, Joseph’s performance makes the story absolutely accessible.

Joseph noted, “Our Director Jenny Sullivan has guided us in a muscular Shakespeare. No fat on the bone, story-driven, with the imagery at full gallop.”

Joseph does admit occasional waves of grandiosity have assisted him in taking on the role of a prince, however he has generally avoided this malady with the help of his nearest and dearest.

He says, “I’ll go from playing Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, alongside my friends Stephanie Zimbalist, Jim O’Neil, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. to staying a month with my elderly mother in a senior community in Massachusetts. Suddenly stardom is a distant memory, and I become her personal driver/caterer... taking her to appointments and serving canapes at cocktail parties.”


Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. and Joseph Fuqua in HAMLET
Stephanie Zimbalist and Joseph Fuqua in HAMLET


After years of living in Los Angeles, Joseph recently made the decision to move to Ventura, bringing him closer to his artistic home at Rubicon.

Now Fuqua lives just a block from the theatre, so his commute to Elsinore Castle is a short one.

Call (805) 667-2900 NOW for tickets!
Or click here to Reserve Online.


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AN ACTOR PREPARES: An Interview with Joseph Fuqua

Q: How do you prepare for a role like Hamlet?
A: In a book called Modern Hamlets, Derek Jacobi makes the consoling remark (I loosely quote) that “there is no definitive Hamlet because Hamlet is a personality play. Whoever is cast as Hamlet is Hamlet.” It’s a humbling role and I’m merely trying to serve it. So rather than copy the greats, we have approached the process as though this were a new play.

Q: Did you discover anything remarkable while learning the role?
A: I am surprised at how much I like Hamlet! He’s often been played as a whiney destructive prig, but his pain as a wounded prince really moves me. He has majesty without ambition. And after the graveyard scene he becomes truly noble.

Q: Are there tricks of the trade you’re learned on your way to taking on this pivotal role?
A: The older you get, the less you have to act. You just access all of the ‘base notes’ that life gives you. After my father died, I went from his funeral back into rehearsal of a play I was doing at South Coast Rep, and the first words out of my mouth that day as an actor were ‘the day I buried my father’... There was no acting required. I just hit that note, and I was home.

Q: What was it about Rubicon Theatre Company that has elicited your allegiance?
A: While training at Yale, they kept saying to us, we’re preparing you for a theatre that doesn’t exist. But from the moment I came to Rubicon, I knew they were wrong. This theatre nurtures artists and creates the kind of haven I always dreamed of. I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to play Hamlet here and to be a part of Rubicon.

HAMLET Now Playing through May 20th

Tickets are going fast…so NOW is the time to discover why Hamlet is
referred to as “the greatest play ever written.”

Call (805) 667-2900 NOW for tickets!
Or click here to Reserve Online



"Though this be madness, yet there is method in't."
Act II, Scene ii

April 26 - May 20, 2007
Reserve Your Tickets Now


For 400 years, the famous tragedy of the Prince of Denmark has fascinated theatergoers like no other.

For nearly a decade, Rubicon Theatre Company has presented innovative, professional theatre in Ventura's Downtown Cultural district.

On April 26th, the stars align and Rubicon Theatre undertakes Shakespeare's epic tragedy, HAMLET.

HAMLET is a work of primal genius, unsurpassed in the history of English literature. Love, madness, passion, betrayal, revenge, murder, and mayhem all come together in Shakespeare's masterpiece. Its thematic complexity embraces a myriad of emotions and ideas, including the existentialist struggle defined in “to be or not to be.” It is, in brief, the most famous English play ever written.

Rubicon's HAMLET sheds new light on this vitally important play in a production that is exciting, innovative and accessible. The stage has been created, in a design never before seen at Rubicon, to reach out into the audience, and the play follows suit...taking hold of you by the lapels, and never letting go!

Joseph Fuqua (Tuesdays with Morrie, All My Sons) steps into the title role supported by Rubicon's own James O'Neil as Claudius, Stephanie Zimbalist as Gertrude, and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. making a cameo appearance as The Player King/British Ambassador. (The father-daughter pair appeared together onstage for the first time in Rubicon's Night of the Iguana.)

Three of our last four productions have been sell outs, so don't risk missing this thrilling specatacle. Discover why HAMLET has mesmerized audiences for centuries.

HAMLET Plays April 26th - May 20th

Call (805) 667-2900 NOW for tickets!
Or click here to reserve online


April 26 - May 20, 2007


[ Calendar l Single Ticket Price Chart ]

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Rubicon Artistic Associate Jenny Sullivan

Shakespeare's epic tragedy Hamlet reigns as the crown jewel of English literature. Rubicon company member Joseph Fuqua (Tuesdays with Morrie, All My Sons) plays the brooding Prince of Denmark, who is haunted by the loss and possible murder of his father the King, and wracked by the possibility of his mother's infidelity. Artistic Director James O'Neill plays Claudius, and Stephanie Zimbalist is Gertrude.


Title Sponsors:







HAMLET, Then and Now

HAMLET is Shakespeare’s most famous play, and also his most modern. The twisty plot, the undercover hero pretending to be mad, the explorations of duty and revenge, love and sex, friendship and betrayal, are the very fabric of our modern entertainment media. Indeed, we might recognize HAMLET as the prototype for every Crime Scene Investigation program, whether set in the Navy, New York, Miami, Las Vegas or (as in this case) Denmark. Where is the evidence that proves that a crime took place? What can we know? What can we not know? These are dramatic questions that Shakespeare asks of us.

But unlike our familiar television programs (whose purpose, after all, is to sell toothpaste and bathroom tissue), HAMLET leads us deeper into human experience - Shakespeare, writing more than 400 years ago, had no forensic technicians pouring over a victim’s remains with microscopes, cotton swabs and DNA sequencers for evidence of a murder. Shakespeare brings the victim back from the grave to finger his assailant. HAMLET is a ghost story, tacked on to a murder plot, with a chamber piece stuck right in the middle.

Ghosts are “trick-or-treat,” kids-in-costumes and Friday-night-at-the-movies for us, but for the citizens of Shakespeare’s day spirits were absolutely real. Some thought ghosts were the souls of the dead come back to earth as God’s punishment. Others believed that spirits came in two flavors: good or bad (nothing in between). Shakespeare uses everyone’s theory.

So how can we know the ghost’s true nature? That thing calling itself “dear old Dad” and ordering you to kill your uncle might not be what it claims to be - even though tender feelings for your dearly departed father invite you to think of it as “an honest ghost.”

Man’s knowledge is imperfect. Man, himself, is imperfect (a fact of which Hamlet is more than keenly aware). So how can we choose a right course of action? In an age when people were responsible for their own souls and justice was eternal, you did not want to make the wrong choice. It could have lasting consequences.

Shakespeare wrote for an audience who saw the Universe in terms of moral justice, not galaxies and quarks. If Claudius pushed Hamlet’s father off the Danish throne, God, inevitably, will push back - through Hamlet. As the Almighty’s appointed to rule on earth, a rightful king is rightfully concerned for the well being of his people. Claudius (though not a bad politician) is concerned for his own well being. He is the famous “something” that is rotten in Denmark.

A final note: Shakespeare set his play in a remote past - a time when the English paid tribute to Denmark (in money, not warm feelings) to keep the Viking raiders off England’s northern coasts. Our production moves the period to the early 19th century, the Napoleonic era, when national borders and centuries of European tradition were swept aside by war. We draw on the instability of this world. We use its Romantic energies to put the play in fresh context, and to compliment the flow of the action.

-- William Keeler, Dramaturge


Playing April 26 - May 20, 2007
Call (805) 667-2900 NOW for tickets!
Or click here to reserve online


[back to top]

The Quotable HAMLET
The most quoted and studied play in the English language, maybe in any language. Everyone knows at least a few lines from it, even if you don't know you do.

April 26 - May 20, 2007
Call (805) 667-2900 NOW for tickets!
Or click here to reserve online

In Rubicon Theatre's upcoming production of HAMLET we hear Joseph Fuqua, James O'Neil, Stephanie Zimbalist, her father Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. and a company of powerful Shakespearean actors utter phrases that sound familiar. Everyone knows, "To be or not to be...." Yet that is just the beginning.

HAMLET is the source for "Neither a borrower nor a lender be," "To thine own self be true," "O, woe is me," "What a piece of work is a man!" and that infamous line "something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Therapists often quote "There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so," and numerous actors cite the great playwright in support of their craft: "The play's the thing!" If someone denies recognizing any of these, one could say "The lady doth protest too much."

HAMLET was first performed around 1600. Since then, it has proven to be one of the English language's most enduring stories. Rubicon's production is a thrilling roller-coaster ride -- filled with murder, madness and mayhem. Call now for tickets!

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HAMLET in Modern Media?

The plot and characters in HAMLET have been the inspiration for many other modern stories. Disney's The Lion King includes themes adapted from HAMLET. The 1970s musical Hair has a subplot featuring a hippy Hamlet, and delivers direct references and quotations from Shakespeare's version.

Additionally, television programs such as "South Park," "Gilligan's Island," "Monty Python's Flying Circus," "Frasier" and "The Simpsons" have featured plots that revolved around HAMLET. And the Klingon Hamlet (full title: The Tragedy of Khamlet, Son of the Emperor of Qo'nos) was a project to translate HAMLET into Klingon for the television series "Star Trek."

References to the play in contemporary media are far too lengthy to list as the play has literally infused itself into our cultural lexicon. On Rubicon Theatre's stage, HAMLET continues to speak the language of yesterday and today.

HAMLET plays April 26th - May 20th
Three of our last four shows have been sell-outs. Don't risk missing your chance to discover why HAMLET is oft referred to as "the greatest play ever written."

Call (805) 667-2900 NOW for tickets!
Or click here to Reserve Online


Stephanie Zimbalist's Listing: http://www.stephaniezimbalist.net/hamlet.html

Upcoming Performances

Rubicon Theatre Company Presents
William Shakespeare’s Epic Tragedy


Joseph Fuqua as Hamlet
Also starring Stephanie Zimbalist and James O’Neil
With Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as the Player King

Directed by Rubicon Artistic Associate Jenny Sullivan

“The play’s the thing.” - Hamlet

April 2, 2007…Ventura, CA… For nine years Rubicon Theatre Company has been presenting innovative, first-rate professional theatrical productions for residents and visitors of the central coast. The company has captured awards and accolades for their diverse repertoire of classic and contemporary dramas, comedies and musicals.

For 400 years, the famous tragedy of the Prince of Denmark has fascinated theatergoers like no other; it is a work of primal genius, unsurpassed in the history of imaginative literature. On April 26th, the stars align and Rubicon Theatre undertakes Shakespeare’s epic tragedy, HAMLET.

Joseph Fuqua steps into the title role supported by James O’Neil as Claudius, Stephanie Zimbalist as Gertrude, and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as The Player King. (The father-daughter pair make only their second stage appearance together with this production; Rubicon’s Night of the Iguana being the first). HAMLET plays Thursday, April 26th through Sunday, May 20th at Rubicon Theatre, 1006 East Main Street in Ventura’s Downtown Historic Cultural District..

HAMLET reigns as the crown jewel of English literature - the most-produced and most-quoted of Shakespeare’s 37 masterpiecesIts thematic complexity embraces a myriad of emotions and ideas, including love, madness, betrayal, revenge, murder, mayhem and the existentialist struggle defined in “to be or not to be.”  It is, in brief, the most famous English play ever written.

The title character’s enigmatic persona has been analyzed by countless academics and portraying the role has become a right of passage for actors. Rubicon’s first company member Joseph Fuqua picks up the gauntlet of the “sweet Prince”after performing in fifteen prior productions with Rubicon. Fuqua has been a professional actor for twenty years having graduated from the M.F.A. program at Yale School of Drama. His professional credits include work on Broadway, and at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Dallas Theatre Center, Manitoba Theatre Centre, South Coast Rep and elsewhere. Joseph joins the acting ranks of Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Kenneth Branaugh, Ralph Fiennes and countless others as he suffuses the brooding Prince of Denmark with life.







Theatremania Listing:  http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/126877
Ventana Monthly Listing:  http://ventanamonthly.com/article.php?id=135&IssueNum=11
Brown Paper Tickets Listing: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/producerevent/14307?prod_id=3100

Playbill Listing:  http://www.playbill.com/events/event_detail/10809.html

Rubicon Theatre Company

The crown jewel of English literature
Show Dates:
Performances from 26 Apr 2007
Opening 28 Apr 2007
Closing 20 May 2007

Performance Schedule:

Box Office: (805) 667-2900

Show Run Time:

Theatre Information:
Rubicon Theatre Company
1006 East Main Street (corner of Laurel)
Ventura, CA 93001

Danish prince Hamlet discovers that his uncle Claudius murdered his father and took the throne, and Hamlet's mother has married the usurper. If life is so fleeting and people can do such things, Hamlet wonders, why are we born at all? Shakespeare's play is often cited as the greatest in the English language.

Show Advisory:


Cast List:
Includes Joseph Fuqua, Alison Brie, James O’Neil, Rudolph Willrich, Stephanie Zimbalist and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr

Production Credits:
Directed by Jenny Sullivan

Other Credits:
Written by: William Shakespeare

Related Information

Official Show WebsiteOfficial Show Site

LA Times Calendar Live Listing: http://www.calendarlive.com/search/465047,0,5705222.event


1006 E. Main St., Ventura

Times rating:

Readers' rating:
Reader reviews: Write a review | Read more reviews

If the ambitious revival of Shakespeare's evergreen tragedy at the Rubicon has its malefactions, actor Joseph Fuqua delivers the royal goods in a title performance as expressive as it is spontaneous, which prevails past over-edits and stylistic variables.
— David C. Nichols
May 3, 2007

Through May. 20
 Sundays: 2 p.m.
 Wednesdays: 2 p.m. 7 p.m.
 Thursdays: 8 p.m.
 Fridays: 8 p.m.
 Saturdays: 2 p.m. 8 p.m.

Price: $20-$49

Box office: 805-667-2900

 Current, Upcoming
Through May. 20
Joseph Fuqua plays the brooding Prince of Denmark in Shakespeare's epic tragedy.

Jun. 9 - Jul. 1
A teacher at the New England School for the Deaf becomes involved with an intelligent and strong-minded former student who now works at the school as a maid.

Aug. 18 - Sep. 9
A pair of high school sweethearts pretend to be a normal suburban couple, but behind the closed doors of their tract home there's a lot more going on.

Sep. 22 - Oct. 14
Edward Albee's drama depicts a well-to-do Connecticut couple dealing with the return of a divorced daughter and an alcoholic sister, as well as a sudden visit from their neighbors.





Ventura County Star - Joseph Fuqua Article - April 26, 2007:



Familiar face to tackle lead role in 'Hamlet'

From staff reports
Thursday, April 26, 2007

Courtesty photo "I come
from myself, and just
pray I don't stink up the
joint," says Joseph Fuqua,
who will play Prince Hamlet.

His face is familiar, yet you can't place him.

Joseph Fuqua gets that a lot.

That's no doubt because Fuqua has appeared on Rubicon Theatre Company's stage hundreds of times in the past eight years, morphing into an array of different characters.

In his more than 15 plays with the Rubicon, he has lived on a drought-infested ranch in the Midwest, attended tea parties in England, driven a bus in Mexico and performed concerts in Vienna.

He portrayed a dashing young lawyer in Rubicon's first world premiere, "Murder in the First"; an enthusiastic schizophrenic in "The Boys Next Door"; a debonair dandy in Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest"; a nervous, subdued man transformed into a killer in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"; and a self-centered writer in "Tuesdays with Morrie."

Just to name a few.

Ventura audiences have come to feel a show featuring Fuqua (pronounced FEW-quay) is a trip to a familiar place.

In his own words, "I come from myself, and just pray I don't stink up the joint."

Beginning today, Fuqua tackles his next role and it's a big one: Hamlet.

Rubicon co-founders and artistic directors Karyl Lynn Burns and James O'Neil said they picked the play for this season largely because they wanted to create the opportunity for Fuqua to play Shakespeare's brooding Prince of Denmark.

"We felt Joseph's ability to change so quickly as an actor was perfect for the mercurial, troubled Hamlet," Burns said.

O'Neil concurred: "Joseph is one of those rare actors who totally transforms when he takes on a role," he said.

"He's become a favorite with our audiences when they recognize him.
Sometimes he so embodies his characters that patrons don't realize he's the same actor."

Self-deprecating and humble, Fuqua takes his craft seriously while keeping it all in perspective.

"Fortunately I have a family that continues to take me down a peg or two," he said. "I'll go from playing Hamlet, prince of Denmark, alongside my friends Stephanie Zimbalist, Jim O'Neil and Efrem Zimbalist Jr., to staying a month with my elderly mother in a senior community in Massachusetts where her friends think I'm her driver and caterer."

A graduate of Yale School of Drama, Fuqua also has credits on and off
Broadway, on television and in film.

As he assumes the mantle of Hamlet, he also makes a personal change. After years of living in Los Angeles, Fuqua has decided to move to Ventura.

"At Yale, they kept saying to us, 'We're preparing you for a theater that doesn't exist,'" Fuqua said.

"But from the moment I came to Rubicon, I knew they were wrong.

"This theater nurtures artists and creates the kind of haven I always dreamed of. I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to play Hamlet here and to be a part of the Rubicon."


More information


Shakespeare's epic tragedy opens with a preview at 8 tonight and runs through May 20 at the Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays except this Saturday, when a 7 p.m. gala is scheduled 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

For tickets $26-$49 call 667-2900, e-mail info//www.rubicontheatre.org.

Facts on Fuqua

The son and grandson of Army generals, Fuqua grew up in the Hudson River Valley near West Point.

After graduating with a master's of fine arts degree from Yale, he worked on and off Broadway in shows including "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and "110 in the Shade" (both at the Lincoln Center), "Raft of the Medusa" and "Yours, Anne."

He also has appeared as Caesar in "Antony and Cleopatra" at Actor's Theatre of Louisville and as Iago in "Othello" for the Dallas Shakespeare Festival.

Among Fuqua's Los Angeles stage credits, he played Charlie Chaplin in "The Cat's Meow," receiving a Drama-Logue Award.

His TV career has included guest-starring roles in "The X-Files," "Chicago Hope," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Becker," among other series.

Film credits include "Ed's Next Move," "David Searching," "Heyday" and J.E.B. Stuart in "Gettysburg," a role he reprised in the Warner Bros. film "Gods and Generals" starring Robert Duvall.

With the Rubicon, Fuqua also has begun teaching acting classes and made his directing debut when the theater's production of "J for J" (written by Jenny Sullivan who directs "Hamlet" and starring the late John Ritter) moved to the Court Theatre in Los Angeles.


Santa Barbara News Press - April 27, 2007 Article:


ONSTAGE: Lean 'Hamlet' gets facelift -Rubicon gives new shine to perhaps history's most-produced drama


For its first main-stage Shakespeare production, the Rubicon Theatre Company is staging a streamlined "Hamlet," set in the early 19th century. At top, Hamlet (Joseph Fuqua) ponders his old friend Yorick's fate. Just above, Hamlet's uncle Claudius (James O'Neil) and mother, Gertrude (Stephanie Zimbalist), greet their court.



April 27, 2007 9:28 AM

On a recent evening, Jenny Sullivan was having dinner with two of the actors she is directing in "Hamlet." Not surprisingly, their conversation focused on the timeless text and the countless questions it raises.

"There was a moment when we thought, 'People have been having this discussion for centuries,' " she said. "It's a fantastic feeling."

"Hamlet" is arguably the most-produced, most-read and most-quoted drama in history. But the creative team behind the Rubicon Theatre Company's production, which opens Saturday, is feeling far more exhilarated than intimidated.

"I'm hearing old teachers in my head, telling me, 'Let the words to the work,' " said Joseph Fuqua, who is playing the title role. "The words are so great! You just ride that wave."

"I'm terrified, but I'm excited," Sullivan said. "For us -- this combination of actors, designers and myself -- this is a new play. I just want to dig into the story, the drama, the relationships."

That story, of course, focuses on a young Danish prince who is mourning the death of his father, the king. Returning home from university, he is shocked and appalled to find that his mother, Gertrude (Stephanie

Zimbalist), has married his uncle Claudius (James O'Neil).

Late one night, Hamlet is visited by his father's ghost, who claims Claudius is his killer. The ghost implores his son to avenge the murder. Hamlet faces an enormous dilemma: Should he believe the apparition, who could be from either heaven or hell? If his father was indeed murdered by Claudius, how should he proceed?

O'Neil, the Rubicon's artistic director, calls it an "existential" play that contains the insight and richness of the great works of mythology. (Although the play was written and first performed in 1600, the legend it is based on can be traced back another 400 years, and it is likely even older than that.)

"In 'Hamlet,' all of the characters are inside all of us," he said. "Hamlet is in you. Gertrude is in you. Claudius is in you. How are you going to integrate them? How are you going to shape these forces for yourself and create a life in the world?"

Aside from a 90-minute "Romeo and Juliet" that toured to schools, "Hamlet" is the Rubicon's first-ever Shakespeare production. To accommodate it, a thrust stage has been constructed, extending out into the auditorium.

"We've gotten rid of eight seats in the front row and four in the second row," O'Neil said.

And why is a big, open playing space essential for Shakespeare?

"I think because the language is the thing," he said. "As an actor, you basically speak your subtext. You're saying what you are thinking and feeling, right in the moment.

"We do have some special effects, because the (ghost scene) calls for that kind of thing. But by and large, the set is a platform for the language."

Sullivan has moved the action from the Renaissance to the first years of the 19th century. "We wanted to make it accessible to our audience, but also give them a big costume drama," she said.

Fuqua believes the juxtaposition of the play's raw, primal emotions and a setting of "Jane Austen prettiness" will give the staging "weight, power and punch."

Also to that end, this will be a lean "Hamlet." Nearly one-quarter of the very long play has been cut; the production is expected to clock in at two-and-a-half hours.

"I'm sure 'Hamlet' scholars will miss things," Sullivan said. "But the top-40 hits are there."

In any event, she said, there is no such thing as a definitive "Hamlet." The prince's story is both universal and highly personal; every actor and director will inevitably interpret it through the prism of their own experiences.

"I have found it comforting to know that I am part of a continuum," O'Neil said. "So many actors, over the centuries, have played the role I am playing.

"When you've had that many actors, there is no such thing as 'the best' performance of such a role. I find that really empowering."


When: Opens 7 p.m. Saturday; continues at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, through May 20

Where: Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura

Cost: $26 to $49

Information: 667-2900 or www.rubicontheatre.org

All Content Copyright © 2007 Santa Barbara News-Press / Ampersand Publishing, LLC unless otherwise specified.



Ventura County Star - Thursday, May 3, 2007

Venture Out

Rubicon's 'Hamlet' enjoys the benefits of exemplary actors

By Rita Moran 
Arts writer

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Courtesy photo by Martin S. Fuentes

Courtesy photo by Ed Krieger
Stephanie Zimbalist exudes
warmth and maternal love in
her role as Queen Gertrude
in "Hamlet."

Courtesy photo by Martin S. Fuentes

One of the advantages of being a respected professional theater company is the ability to attract actors with exceptional abilities, and to maintain their interest through programming that might daunt less experienced troupes.

A prime example is Rubicon Theatre Company's "Hamlet," one of the world's most complex and intense tragedies by one of its most revered playwrights, William Shakespeare.

Selecting "Hamlet" for presentation is bold programming, but not the leap of faith it might be if an actor willing and able to play the title role weren't already in Rubicon's midst.

Joseph Fuqua, who has demonstrated at the Rubicon that he can be very funny ("The Rainmaker," "The Little Foxes"), keenly sensitive ("The Boys Next Door," "Tuesdays with Morrie") and chillingly serious ("Man of La Mancha," "All My Sons"), is ripe for the role.

Radiating intelligence and a singeing wit, the actor enters Hamlet's disjointed world well-equipped.

Bolstering Fuqua's adventure, and making it less precarious, are more of the skilled cadre Rubicon has attracted and sustained, starting with director Jenny Sullivan and players in leading roles: Stephanie Zimbalist as Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's mother; James O'Neil, Rubicon's artistic director, as King Claudius, Hamlet's uncle; and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Player King.

Other returning actors to the Rubicon stage include Jamie Torcellini, Rudolph Willrich and Nancy Nufer.

With all that talent on stage there is little worry about poorly spoken or muffed lines, inept movement or shallow interpretations.

Newer to the Rubicon, but adding substantially to the fabric of the play, is Alison Brie as Ophelia, a charming innocent at first, a frenzied fallout from Hamlet's single-minded pursuit of revenge as the plot constricts.

Brie has what few other Ophelias can summon as they disintegrate. She can actually sing well, adding to the force of the distraught young woman's fragmented songs of delusion.

Stephanie Zimbalist exudes warmth and maternal love, while O'Neil, whose Claudius has won the throne and queen through nefarious means, is severely controlled until his machinations are revealed.

Leonard Kelly Young shines in the featured roles of the ghost of Hamlet's father, solemnly urging revenge, and a wily gravedigger who's quick with the earthy humor.

The complex set with multiple revolving panels manipulated by the actors with some backstage assists serves very well for quick exits and entries and supports a certain sense of mystery.

High, steep stairways on either side of the stage lead up to a second playing level, one put to good use as Hamlet flings himself onto the edge of the balcony for his "To be or not to be" soliloquy.

That quintessential set piece, weighing the impact of acting out his father's vengeance against the festering angst of not doing so, embraces the audience in its delivery rather than being conveyed as interior brooding.

Connection with the audience is enhanced, too, by the thrust conformation of the stage designed for "Hamlet."

To accommodate it, a few seats had to be temporarily removed, but the trade-off for intimate involvement in the action is worth the sacrifice.

Using the First Folio text for "Hamlet," printed in 1623, which is considerably shorter than the Second Quarto in 1604, Rubicon dramaturg William Keeler explains in program notes that additional judicious cuts have been made. "Hamlet" is presented in two acts, the first 70 minutes, the second around 90. But most will find the words and actions on stage riveting.

Time may not fly, but neither is it wasted.

E-mail Rita Moran at

Rubicon Theatre Company's production of Shakespeare's tragedy runs through May 20 at 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Showtimes are 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For information and tickets - $26-$49, or $20 for students with ID - call 667-2900 or visit http://www.rubicontheatre.org.




Tolucan Times - May 2, 2007 Review:

The Tolucan Times

What a gorgeous weekend huh? Summer is near...

By Nite Lights Pat Taylor on May 02,2007

VENTURA – This epic tragedy, the most famous English play ever written, is also the most often produced play of Shakespeare’s 38 beloved masterpieces. Hamlet rises once again, just up the coast in Ventura (an hours drive). Abundant with the Bard’s most well known quotes, and as always, deliciously decadent and full of betrayal, revenge, madness and passion, this is a stunningly masterful production! Under the excitingly inventive direction of the always innovative Jenny Sullivan, characters dash & dart about, surprising us from every corner of the sweeping stage. Majestic set design by Thomas S. Giamario and impressive 1800s period costumes by Marcy Froehlich creatively take us there. Fine behind the scenes efforts all around! Joseph Fuqua as Hamlet is triumphantly titillating! A highly skilled, constantly revered actor, with rock star good looks, and a boyishly playful nature, he gives the mad Prince of Denmark a sassy and devilish twinkle. Bravo! Also impressively illuminating is James O’Neil as Claudius, Hamlet’s evil, murderous stepfather. Admittedly, I often struggle to absorb the meaning of Shakespeare’s poetic writing style, but the crisp phrasing and delivery of O’Neil’s performance here, made it crystal clear. Stephanie Zimbalist elegantly captures the role of Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, and it was a thrill to see her handsome father Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (at 88) as the Player King. Alison Brie was hypnotic as the femininely fragile Ophelia, Remi Sandri was chilling as her brother, Laertes, and Rudolph Willrich powerfully depicted her father, Polonius. Appearing from the heavens, Leonard Kelly Young was effectively eerie as the ghost of Hamlet’s father. I could go on and on about this incredible, large cast, but space won’t allow. Kudos to all. Only running thru May 20 (Wednesday thru Sunday), take this special chance to get to know this fabulous theatre company in their gorgeous theatre! They always deliver! The Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main St. in Ventura. Call (805) 667-2900.

More theatre “chat” to come, next time. You can always count on me to “speaketh” the truth...as fairly as possible...


LA TIMES - Thursday, May 3, 2007

  Latimes.com | Entertainment News  
May 3, 2007


Get thee to 'Hamlet'

Joseph Fuqua delivers a star turn as the emotionally torn Danish prince.
By David C. Nichols, Special to The Times

What a piece of work is "Hamlet"; how noble in reason and infinite in faculties is actor Joseph Fuqua. If the ambitious revival of William Shakespeare's evergreen tragedy at the Rubicon has its malefactions, Fuqua delivers the royal goods in a performance as expressive as it is spontaneous.

Note the brooding hush at "O, that this too, too solid flesh would melt," which Fuqua murmurs with a clipped melancholy. Now, reconcile that with the galvanic rage ignited by his father's ghost (Leonard Kelly Young), the many valid laughs in unexpected places or the hairpin turns between feigned and real madness. Although his tangled curls and designer Marcy Froehlich's smashing Empire
costumes rather suggest Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, the dynamic Fuqua seems born for Hamlet,
almost Byronic in the confrontations, tellingly confidential in the soliloquies.

These, delivered from the apron of Thomas S. Giamario's semi-thrust setting, are worth the admission.
Using the First Folio edition of the text, with interstitial cuts, director Jenny Sullivan lets her star sculpt
his interpretation from inside the
lines, and, barring the odd too-stentorian attack, Fuqua doesn't disappoint.

Nor do James O'Neil, his lucid, guilt-ridden Claudius almost sympathetic, or Remi Sandri, a Laertes both restrained and roiling. Ophelia is one of Shakespeare's shakiest ingénues, but the unaffected Alison Brie manages a riveting mad scene, and Rudolph Willrich makes a casually wry Polonius, hindered only by the edits.

That is a recurrent liability, for the narrative, placed in the Napoleonic era, produces a lopsided structure and some stylistic variables. Though the opening recalls a Carol Reed film,
with potent contributions by lighting designer Jeremy Pivnick and sound designer David Beaudry, the assembled court hovers between respectable public television and dutiful academia.

Joseph Fuqua is the title character and Alison Brie 
is Ophelia in "Hamlet" at the Rubicon. 
(Martin S. Fuentes / For the Times) 

May 4, 2007

Sweet Prince
(Martin S. Fuentes / For the Times)
May 4, 2007

For example, the agreeably old-fashioned declamation of Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as the Player King comes from another Elsinor entirely than the grim vulgarity of Young's First Clown at the graveyard. Perhaps most taxed among the game cast is Stephanie Zimbalist, her still-gelling Gertrude lacking specifics; Joshua Wolf Coleman's beautifully spoken but underused Horatio; and Jamie Torcellini and Chris Maslen, a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern without a through-line.

Giamario's revolving panels are functional but peculiar, distracting against the stone staircases. Word pointing sometimes jars, as when Claudius' "Madness in great ones must not unwatched go," which ends the first half, seems aimed at current leaders. The final return of the ghost, complete with maniacal laughter, is wildly misjudged. Yet, if the play's occasionally less the thing than usual, there is a special providence to Fuqua's memorable prince.



Where: Rubicon Theatre Company at the Laurel, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura

When: 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays

Ends: May 20

Price: $26 to $49

Contact: (805) 667-2900 or rubicontheatre.org

Running time: 2 hours, 55 minutes

Santa Barbara Independent - May 3, 2007 Review: http://independent.com/news/2007/may/03/hamlet-rubicon-theatre/

Hamlet at the Rubicon Theatre.

The Enigma of Hamlet Lives On

Thursday, May 3, 2007

By Bojana Hill

Hamlet has been performed many times since Shakespeare wrote his famous tragedy in 1600. Now the Rubicon Theatre joins the ranks of companies that have produced the world’s most famous play with a stellar production directed by Jenny Sullivan, and with Joseph Fuqua as Hamlet.

Joseph Fuqua turns in a masterful performance 
as Hamlet in the Rubicon Theatre’s current production of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. Hamlet is here shown with Ophelia, who is 
played by Alison Brie.
Instead of the original medieval historical setting, this production unfolds in an early-19th-century setting. Exquisite period costumes reflect the grandeur of the Danish royal court in the era of the Napoleonic wars. At the center of the stage, tall panels adorned with chess figures accentuate the craftiness of Claudius and the play’s theme of moral corruption. The staging of the ghost of Hamlet’s father is handled practically, with a metallic voice suggesting something modern from outer space. During his appearance, thunderous sounds fill the intimate theatre space, leaving a feeling of awe in its wake that continues throughout the production.

Joseph Fuqua is superb in the complex role of Hamlet. Initially stone-faced as a grief-stricken son, he pounces on Claudius and his mother with sarcastic puns that reveal his anger. Hamlet accuses Gertrude of being common, and he reviles his uncle Claudius, who has not only remarried his mother in haste, but has also usurped Hamlet’s right to the Danish crown. In Fuqua’s interpretation, Hamlet is a witty, absurd hero whose ability to see through false appearances and pretenses receives more emphasis than his melancholy indecision. This production’s finest scenes include Hamlet’s lucid mockeries of the sycophants Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and the quick repartee he makes with a bewildered Polonius (Rudolph Willrich). In the nunnery scene, Hamlet rages at Ophelia (Alison Brie), who is equally lost in a vortex of lies and treachery. Brie delivers a deeply moving performance as Ophelia, an innocent girl “divided against self and her own judgment.”

The second act is a tour de force. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. plays the dignified Player King with great pathos, and Remi Sandri expresses Laertes’ hot tempered, vengeful spirit precisely. 

James O’Neill’s nuanced portrayal of Claudius presents a villain with a remorseful, penitent side. Leonard Kelly Young (also the Ghost) evidently cherishes the role of the gravedigger in a lighter, comedic scene. The quick pace observed in the soliloquies and dialogues ensures the audience’s complete absorption in this three-hour modern performance of a drama that continues to stir our minds and hearts now, some 400 years after its composition.

Santa Barbara News Press - May 5, 2007 Review:


Rubicon offers powerful 'Hamlet'


For its first main-stage Shakespeare production, the Rubicon Theatre Company staged a streamlined "Hamlet," set in the early 19th century. At left, Hamlet (Joseph Fuqua) is at odds with Laertes (Remi Sandri) the brother of his love, Ophelia.

May 5, 2007 6:55 AM

The Rubicon Theatre Company waited until its ninth season to present its first full-scale Shakespeare production. The thrilling success of its "Hamlet" suggests the timing was perfect.

The staging showcases the informal repertory company the Rubicon has built up over the years: an impressive group of actors, directors and designers who enjoy tackling difficult, meaty material. Shakespeare's great tragedy certainly qualifies, and the result is an often-riveting show that feels both world-class and home-grown.

The primary focus is, naturally, on Joseph Fuqua, who plays the iconic title role. This is something like his 17th Rubicon production, and it is arguably his most impressive achievement to date.

Mr. Fuqua gives us a prince whose pain is palpable -- a man who is not only confused and angry, but emotionally shattered. Several times in the early scenes, he seems seconds away from bursting into tears.

And why not? All of Hamlet's assumptions about his world, his family and his own inner nature have suddenly, violently been thrown into question.

His first major shock -- the news that his father is dead, and his mother (Stephanie Zimbalist) has married his uncle -- is difficult enough to process. But a second jolt follows: a visitation from his father's ghost, who accuses the uncle, Claudius (James O'Neil), of murdering him.

This otherworldly exchange isn't simply informational. Dad wants revenge, and he expects his son to carry it out.

As Hamlet struggles to ascertain the truth and decide upon a course of action, he finds himself face to face with the fundamental questions of human existence. Why are we here? Why does evil exist? Is death preferable to a wretched life? To be or not to be?

Mr. Fuqua takes us on a powerful emotional journey, from despair to cynicism to murderous rage to something approaching acceptance. Under Jenny Sullivan's sensitive direction, the actor conveys the nuances of each emotional shift. As he speaks the famous soliloquies, he seems to be imploring the audience for answers.

Mr. O'Neil is equally strong as Claudius. He immediately establishes Gertrude's new husband (and Denmark's new king) as a talented but phony politician. But as the action unfolds, the usurper's emotional unraveling echoes that of his nephew, and one feels deeply for this man who desperately longs to undo the damage he has done.

Alison Brie is outstanding as Ophelia, the young woman Hamlet woos, confuses and abandons. With her beautiful singing voice and compelling acting, Ms. Brie turns the character's mad scene into a stunning virtuoso aria.

The production has a surprising number of laughs, the bulk of which are provided by two veteran actors in vivid roles. Rudolph Willrich, as Ophelia's father Polonious, and Leonard Kelly Young, as the grave digger, provide different but equally amusing takes on a familiar type: the puffed-up, pseudo-authority figure who loves the sound of his own voice.

The cast does have its weak links; Ms. Zimbalist does not make a strong enough impression as Gertrude. But it also contains superb actors in small roles, such as Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as the Player King and Jamie Torcellini as a smug Rosencrantz.

The thrust stage built especially for this production works wonderfully. Thomas Giamario's symmetrical set, dominated by large rotating panels, is an odd mixture of elements, but it functions efficiently.

The play has been moved to the Napoleonic era (1810). While it's hard to discern a strong reason for this transposition, costume designer Marcy Froehlich responded by creating gorgeous dresses and handsome uniforms.

Ms. Sullivan uses a trimmed-down version of the First Folio, which cuts a few more lines than I would like. But that, in a very real sense, is a compliment. It's quite an achievement when a three-hour-long production leaves you wanting more.

e-mail: tjacobs@newspress.com


All Content Copyright © 2007 Santa Barbara News-Press / Ampersand Publishing, LLC unless otherwise specified.


Thoughts black. Hands apt. Drugs fit. And time agreeing.
(Left to Right) Andrew Berg, Jamie Torcellini, The Incomparable Nancy Nufer, HEY KIDS--THAT'S ALISON BRIE FROM THE HIT TV SHOW
COMMUNITY!!!, Chris Maslen, James O'Neill, Stephanie Zimbalist, Joseph Fuqua, Rudy Willrich, Tobias Peltier, Joshua Coleman

(Center) The Great Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (R.I.P. Old Friend) and Christian Contreras