‘Hamlet’ becomes a musical in ‘Hamlet 2.’
By Donalevan Maines
The members of the Tucson Gay Men’s Chorus are the backup singers for “Rock Me, Sexy Jesus,” Elizabeth Shue plays herself, and Shakespeare fans finally find out what happened to the characters who survived something rotten in Denmark. All that and a lump in the throat are packed into Hamlet 2, an irreverent new comedy that caught fire at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
British comic Steve Coogan stars as Dana Marschz, the prototypical, importantly earnest high school teacher along the lines of Oscar-nominated Richard Dreyfuss in Mr. Holland’s Opus and Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society . Marschz may be a mensch, but he gets about as much respect as sad-sack director Corky St.Clair in Waiting for Guffman . Marschz’s latest stage adaptation, a rousing re-creation of the popular film Erin Brockovich , was even dissed by the 9th-grade drama critic, while provoking calls to shut down the drama department altogether.
Enter ACLU attorney Cricket Feldstein (Saturday Night Live‘s Amy Poehler) to defend Marschz’s artistic freedom, as well as Elizabeth Shue, who has quit show business (after scoring an Oscar nomination for Leaving Las Vegas) and become a nurse. Suddenly, Tucson, Arizona’s West Mesa High School is suddenly the stage for a musical-theater extravaganza designed to rouse the heart of every high school thespian past, present, and evermore.
also stars Catherine Keener, David Arquette, and Skylar Astin and Phoebe Strole from Broadway’s triumph of teenage angst, Spring Awakening.
Opens nationwide August 22.
Photo captions: Rockin’ Hamlet: The Tucson Gay Men’s Chorus rehearses for its participation in West Mesa High School’s production of Hamlet 2. Rand Posin (Skyler Astin, front) belts one out while Jesus (Steve Coogan) prances in the background.