Should I, or shouldn’t I? That is the question in the latest Pocket Sandwich Theatre production, “I Hate Hamlet”

The comedy and pathos of a haunting Hamlet comes to the Pocket Sandwich Theatre stage.

Pocket Sandwich Theatre "I Hate Hamlet"
A look at rehearsals for “I Hate Hamlet” – Courtesy of Pocket Sandwich Theatre/Carol M. Rice

Mention the name Shakespeare, and people get nervous. Theatergoers wonder if they can understand and enjoy it, and some actors wonder if they have the mettle to perform it. The latter reaction is at the heart of the Pocket Sandwich Theatre production of “I Hate Hamlet,” which opens Friday, February 23, in Historic Downtown Carrollton.

The play is a comedy following a young Hollywood TV actor, Andrew Rally (played by Mario Aguirre IV), in his New York apartment as he grapples with his upcoming portrayal of Hamlet onstage. Andew’s life is complicated. His TV show is on hiatus. He just moved to New York City, and now a séance in his apartment has summoned the ghost of its former inhabitant, one of the finest actors ever to play Hamlet, John Barrymore (played by Dennis Millegan), who is here to give him advice.

The play’s director is Carol M. Rice, the multi-talented actor, director and playwright who serves as the executive artistic director of Plano’s Rover Dramawerks. “I Hate Hamlet” marks her return to the Pocket Sandwich Theatre after a seven-year hiatus. Many things changed during that time. The world got hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Pocket Sandwich Theatre moved to its current location in Historic Downtown Carrollton.

Rice said that although the location has changed, the theater space has the same feel. “It definitely has that same feel of being at the Pocket,” Rice said, calling her return to the theater “like going home.”

She also feels “I Hate Hamlet” is a good fit for the Pocket Sandwich Theatre stage. “It’s very funny, but it’s also very smart,” Rice said. The play combines the Shakespearean elements of Hamlet, along with a good dose of comedy, a sword fight, and plenty of emotion. “It also has a lot of humor and pathos in it,” Rice added.

“I Hate Hamlet” creator Paul Rudnick stated that when he cast the show’s Barrymore, he wanted someone with a significant presence, a cross between an “Olympian Hamlet…and everyone’s favorite scoundrel.” With that sense of gravitas in mind, Rice built the cast around the image of the Barrymore character. She cast veteran actor Dennis Millegan as her Barrymore. “He is such an amazing actor,” Rice said of Millegan.

Another glimpse behind the scenes of “I Hate Hamlet

This is Rice’s first time working with Millegan, but she is a longtime admirer of his work. “When he came to audition, I was really excited about that,” Rice said. Her excitement was justified with Millegan’s strong audition. “It was a kind of no-brainer for me to cast him.”

She felt Mario Aguirre IV, who plays TV actor Andrew Rally in the play, was a perfect fit given his strong acting ability and contrasting style with Millegan. “I felt [Aguirre] and [Millegan] would work really well together,” Rice said. The remainder of the show’s cast consists of Rebecca Litsey, who plays Felicia; Jennifer Nachazel, who plays Deirdre; Ivy Opdyke, who plays Lillian; and Nolan Spinks, who plays Gary.

Rice credits the professionalism and commitment of the cast for keeping rehearsals running smoothly even as the production faced hurdles due to COVID-19. “I actually didn’t have my whole cast together for a couple of weeks at one point,” Rice said. She credited the hard work and diligence of the cast in picking up rehearsals seamlessly after the setback. “It was smooth sailing because they put in the work…they worked on their lines on their own time. They knew who their characters were,” Rice said.

Veteran set designers Jeff Vance and Joey Dietz brought the vision of Andrew Rally’s mid-century, gothic-style apartment to life for Pocket Sandwich Theatre attendees. Rudnick based the original play on his own apartment, which was the real-life home of the late John Barrymore himself.

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Rice also praised her fight choreographer, Andrew Dillon, for giving the show’s sword fight such character. She stated that the fight is more than just a straight duel as it contains pauses and comedic moments as the characters of Rally and Barrymore argue with each other. “I think Andrew Dillon did a really nice job,” Rice said.

Rice said that beyond the show’s message of perseverance, she wants people to leave the show feeling happy. “I’m looking forward to people seeing it and laughing,” Rice said. “I can only laugh so much at rehearsals.”

“I Hate Hamlet” runs from now till March 23, 2024, at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre in Historic Downtown Carrollton. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, visit

This interview has been edited for clarity.


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