Winnipeg Free Press (Ca), December 12, 1994


by Kevin Prokosh

Perhaps the group of Winnipegers most thrilled about Keanu Reeves coming to town are the local actors who will be rubbing shoulders with the movie star for the next eight weeks. "I'm stoked", says Richard Hurst, who plays various small roles in Hamlet, opening Jan. 12 at the MTC. Rehearsals begin today.

"I'd like to watch anybody put together Hamlet, but with someone like Keanu who I have seen in film, it's something special to watch him put together Hamlet."

Hurst has already offered Reeves his services to "sit on book" which is stage talk for someone watching the script while an actor runs through his lines. "I'd like to get to know the guy because it's not often you have a movie star in the cast," says the veteran actor.

Many of the Winnipeg cast members, such as Lora Shroeder and Robb Paterson are delighted by the prospects of sitting around the green room chatting with Reeves. They are impressed with the commitment of an actor who can meet the challenge of performing as the Prince of Denmark. "It's not like he's coming here to do Plaza Suite," said Paterson who plays Renaldo in the play. "I'm excited because a movie star is coming to town and I'm going to be in the same rehearsal hall as him."

Schroeder who appears in the play-within-a-play scene is impatient to begin rehearsals. "I want to meet the comapany and meet Keanu as a fellow worker and not as a movie fan," she said. "I'm not star-struck at this point, I might be on Monday morning."

The show's director Lewis Baumander, doesn't believe his cast will be awestruck by Reeves. "I think within 10 minutes everybody will realize he's just another member of the company." Baumander says.

Besides the presence of Reeves, what is also a new experience to the actors is the security thrown up around MTC. The entire production staff, actors, designers, stage managers, and directors will have to wear badges bearing their pictures to gain access to thge rehearsal hall. There will also be a guard at the security door. The safety concerns just heighten the uniqueness of this production for Winnipeg actors in the 20 member cast. "I like the energy around the show," says Shroeder, who played Juliet in this summers Shakespeare-at-the-ruins production of Romeo and Juliet. "I think there are a lot of people not usually drawn to the theatre who are hyped about Hamlet. It's really nice to have people talking about what's happening here in the city as opposed to shows happening far away."

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