Few people I’ve met are as “off” as Shannon Bryan.

So I know it will be no small task to take over the “Off Beat” column from her beginning this week. But she has moved on to new duties at MaineToday Media, so I’ll do my best to find the wackiest events offered around the state.

No matter how far off the beaten track they may be.

From cardboard boats to high-heel races, this column will continue to uphold a high standard when it comes to weirdness.

Keeping that in mind, consider this week’s wacky event: a cabaret-style musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” featuring the songs of Dusty Springfield and Irving Berlin.

“Welcome Home, Hamlet” focuses on the Danish prince as he comes home for Thanksgiving to find that, among other things, there’s a dance club in the castle basement. The show plays for one night – Saturday – at the Stonington Opera House.

Stephanie Dodd, one of the two women who wrote the show, said that as an actress, it has always been her dream to play all of Shakespeare’s “ladies.” She’s been in many serious versions of Shakespeare plays, and calls herself a “super Shakespeare dork.”

But she’s also a working actress in New York, so she needs to be creative and create work for herself when she’s between more conventional gigs. This show was one of those ventures.

“Sometimes you’re out of work for a while so you have to develop your own project, and this one was just meant to be,” she said from her home in New York City.

The idea for the play began about four years ago. Dodd had worked with the show’s co-writer, Rachel Murdy, in a production of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Sometime after that production, she ran into Murdy in Greenwich Village. Murdy told Dodd she had booked time at a local cabaret, but didn’t have a show to fill it with yet.

“We knew (another actor) who always wanted to play Hamlet, so we thought we’d write a cabaret version of ‘Hamlet,’” Dodd said.

The two writers then got together and took a road trip to Las Vegas to do research and talk about the play. “Las Vegas is a funny place to be talking about ‘Hamlet,’ but I think it worked for us,” said Dodd.

Although it’s a light-hearted musical, “Welcome Home, Hamlet” retains a lot of Shakespeare’s dialogue, Dodd said, but sometimes it’s accented in strange ways. In one scene, Hamlet recites a long passage of dialogue as the song “Ode to My Family” by The Cranberries plays in the background. In another, Ophelia sings a reworked version of Dusty Springfield’s 1966 hit “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.”

Murdy said one of her favorite scenes includes Claudius and Hamlet singing an Andrew Lloyd Webber-inspired duet in the chapel.

“The layers of ‘Hamlet,’ ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and the guys harmonizing is always a delight to hear and see played out,” she said.

Dodd portrays Ophelia and plays piano for the show. Murdy plays Queen Gertrude.

The show has so far only played in venues around New York City. Dodd and Murdy have worked at the Stonington Opera House in the past, and their show is a good fit for the opera house’s “Shakespeare in Stonington” series of original productions of Shakespeare classics.

The show runs about an hour. There are times when the audience can freely interact with the actors, and at the end, pumpkin pie is served for everyone.

“It’s very free-flowing,” said Dodd.

Any production that blends Shakespeare and Dusty Springfield has to be.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]

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