Meet the Cast of Hamlet: Mark Gmazel
First Experience of Hamlet?
My first experience with Hamlet was middle school, where I found a stack of the old Illustrated Classics. These were comic books. I recall MacBeth, King Lear, Richard iii, and Henry V, had the better parts of the text with comic book illustrations, which really helped me keep track of who was who and what was happening. Later, when I read the plays in full as text, I could remember the images from those graphic novels. I recall MacBeth being the first play I read in high school, followed by Lear, Richard iii, Midsummer, and the inevitable Romeo & Juliet. While at CMU and Lansing Community College I took every Shakespeare course I could. I then decided why not try to be in one instead of just reading them so I auditioned and was cast as King Henry VI in Richard III and Starveling in Midsummer, way back in 1991. Later I attended the University of Michigan Ann Arbor where I graduated with honours from the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. While there I hit my stride playing Pistol in Henry V, and continued to play indoor and outdoor Shakespeare as well as regular drama, comedies, children's theatre, musicals, collaborative drama, new works, dinner theatre, murder mysteries, staged readings, etc..but Shakespeare will always be my preferred performance option.
What is your dream role? What is your favorite role you have played?
At this point, the role I most want to play is Falstaff, whom I have of yet never enacted and I hope some artistic director somewhere reads this and recognizes the obvious potential. My favorite role from the past is Pistol, my first real success and a character I revisited in other plays later. Shakespeare offers many opportunities for supporting characters to come in and really own the stage. It just takes boldness, preparation, and real accurate assessment of how the performer’s strengths mesh with the function the character is meant to perform. In college I realised that while every male in the department would be going after the lead, no one else would really find a character in support to bring to life...Pistol for me was everything, I got cast as many were not, played a bold caricature of a version of myself, and literally stole the show. Heady stuff. This success led to the opportunity to play in the musical theatre lab show of Midsummer as Flute, the first of several times I played Thisby, alongside Gavin Creel, Rachel Hoffman, Jessica Caufiel, Jeremy Davis, Barret Foa, and many other high speed types.