Teen theater puts undead twist on classic

Hamlet, played by Preston Bogan, right, confronts Claudius, played by Troy Bond, as Ophelia, played by Katie Stango, lies dead on the ground during a rehearsal for  Naugatuck Teen Theater’s production of ‘Hamlet vs. Zombies: Something is Rotting in the State of Denmark’ Tuesday night. The play opens Oct. 26 at St. Michael’s Church, 210 Church St., in Naugatuck. –LUKE MARSHALL

Hamlet, played by Preston Bogan, right, confronts Claudius, played by Troy Bond, as Ophelia, played by Katie Stango, lies dead on the ground during a rehearsal for Naugatuck Teen Theater’s production of ‘Hamlet vs. Zombies: Something is Rotting in the State of Denmark’ Tuesday night. The play opens Oct. 26 at St. Michael’s Church, 210 Church St., in Naugatuck. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Teen Theater is hoping to scare up some laughs with a twist on a classic.

The theater’s production of “Hamlet vs. Zombies: Something is Rotting in the State of Denmark” opens Oct. 26 at St. Michael’s Church.

First-time Naugatuck Teen Theater Director Rob Richnavsky said while the play is a new twist on William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” it does have many of the same elements.

“It takes the story of Hamlet, which is originally kind of a ghost story, and interjects zombies into the mix,” Richnavsky said. “It changes the play quite a bit throughout, but they still keep a lot of the classic language in there and themes that are in the original play.”

In addition to dealing with the death of his father and the plotting of his uncle as he does in the original play, Richnavsky said, Hamlet also has his hands full with an outbreak of a zombie virus.

“There’s a lot of reference to zombie movies and horror movies, and it’s quite campy and funny,” Richnavsky said.

Troy Bond, 17, of Naugatuck, plays Hamlet’s uncle and the villain of the play Claudius. Bond agreed with Richnavsky that the script was one of the funnier ones he’s read.

“The first time I read the script I fell in love. I couldn’t stop laughing. I laughed from beginning to end,” Bond said. “I’m very glad to be a part of it. It’s going great.”

Nolan Cummings, 15, of Wolcott, said the script manages to blend two genres into a single play.

“There’s two totally different scripts in one because some of it is Elizabethan language and some of it is modern day language because we reference a lot of zombie movies and it’s hard to put zombie movies into Elizabethan language,” Cummings said.

Cumming, who plays Horatio, said one of the reasons this show works is because of the popularity of the undead lately.

“Zombies are hot right now with shows like ‘The Walking Dead’ and Hamlet is a classic. I think people are going to really enjoy it,” Cummings said.

Richnavsky said despite a tight schedule and not having a lot of time to rehearse, the actors have done a good job in preparing for the play.

“The kids have really stepped it up. They were off book when they need to be,” Richnavsky said. “They really are doing great.”

The title role of Hamlet is being played by Preston Bogan, 17, of Naugatuck. Bogan said the cast has been working hard to make sure the show is going to be a success.

“Everything is going amazing considering we got cast a little over a month ago. We’re already off book. I’m excited for the show to start,” Bogan said. “I think if any Shakespeare play had zombies in it, it would have to be Hamlet. It flows seamlessly into the story line.”

Katie Stango, 14, of Middlebury, who plays Hamlet’s love interest Ophelia, said the play will appeal to audiences because it is both funny and is not all in Elizabethan English.

“I think that it’s very cool because you don’t speak in iambic pentameter like they do in Shakespeare and some of the language they use is modern and they talk about modern things, but you also maintain some of the vocabulary they use in Shakespeare. The characters also stay more or less the same. It’s interesting to see how it all fits together,” Stango said.

Stage manager Tori Richnavsky said the play has enough going for it that it should draw a large audience.

“It’s Hamlet vs. Zombies, why wouldn’t you want to see it? The name alone intrigues you. It’s fun, it’s campy, and it’s perfect for the season if you need something to do around Halloween,” she said.

The play opens Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at St. Michael’s Church, 210 Church St., with shows scheduled for Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. and Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door. For more information, visit www.naugatuckteentheater.org.