By Dale Gutzman

April 2010

OFF THE WALL THEATRE presented an original thriller written by Artistic Director Dale Gutzman, called HAMLIN. HAMLIN is fun filled nasty little adult fable based of course on the Pied Piper legend. This version is set in the corporate world and deals with the powerful and ruthless Hamlin family. The play is filled with thrills, laughs, high melodrama, and perhaps a reflection or two on our world. Gutzman who has written numerous shows during his long theatre career and was the playwright in residence for the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts for four years, has also written an original show for the Skylight Theatre to be performed this May. Why a double dose of Gutzman's writing now? Since the Skylight show, "An Evening with Gilbert and Sullivan" displays a wry sense of humor and light whimsy, Gutzman thought it might be fun to pair it with a modern mystery fable in a more caustic vein. "Both shows deal with what is real and what is not, and how we as humans deal with truth and illusion." 

HAMLIN, set in the town of the same name deals with a local populace suffering some kind of terrible flu, along with an influx of rodents. The Hamlin family tries desperately to control the media coverage of their catastrophe while seeking a solution for their dilemma. When the situation gets worse, they rely on the questionable skills of a Shaman or Magician of sorts. The show concerns itself with the destructive forces within the Hamlin family as well as threat on the outside. Cora, the matriarch of the clan is monstrously controlling, with a sharp witty tongue and a sting that can destroy. Her own secret past has created a creature seemingly without love. Her son Charles is now the head of Hamlin Technologies, but questions his own abilities to stand up to the threats facing them. His own son, Will is a wheelchair bound paraplegic who cannot, see, hear, or speak. Around these three hover a plethora of parasites, including Pishler, a groveling worm of a man, and Ditman, with high ambitions and the ruthless intelligence to match. Other characters include Betty Martin, Will's nurse and the object of affection for several of the males in the household, and of course the mysterious stranger who offers to rid the town of their plague "FOR A PRICE." What ensues is partly the fable with which we are all familiar, and partly a thriller with lot of new twists and turns. 

The cast for his world premiere original drama was stellar. Jeremy Welter, fresh from his triumphant turn as Macbeth played Charles Hamlin, and Donna Lobacz, who was last seen at OTWT in La Cage Aux Folles, played Cora, his tyrannical mother. Robert Hirschi, who stunned audiences as Sweeney Todd in 2009, played Karl Ditman, Charles' rival in love and ambition. Lawrence J. Lukasavage was the perfect embodiment of Irving Pishler, the sniveling coward with the heart of cheese. James Feeley played a rather unusual press agent named aptly August Faust, and Christopher Elst, played the Mysterious Stranger. Rounding out the cast were Marcee Doherty as Nurse Better Martin and Patrick McGuire as Will Hamlin. The show was designed by the ever creative David Roper