Christopher Lowe has never turned down an acting gig he didn’t like — especially challenging ones, such as his role of the “ghost of John Barrymore” in Bay Area Harbour Playhouse’s production of “I Hate Hamlet,” which makes its debut at 8 p.m. today at 3803 state Highway 3 in Dickinson.
Performances can be seen at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through April 9 at the Galveston County theater.
Written by playwright Paul Rudnick, Lowe’s Barrymore character is summoned through a séance and makes this comedy a wildly funny duel over women, art, success, duty and television.
“John Barrymore is such a fun character to play,” Lowe said. “I knew I wanted the role as soon as I read the script. His acting style was very dramatic, almost what would be considered overacting by today’s standards. I get to ham it up in a way that’s a great departure from my real-life personality, which makes it both a challenge and a thrill.”
Lowe, who’s no stranger to community theater, has been teaching science and theater 20 years at Seabrook Intermediate School. He decided to make time for community theater five years ago — and hasn’t looked back.
Director Frederic Pearl selected Lowe to play the witty and rakish Barrymore, who is also dissipated and towering. Lowe likes the challenge of the role as it shows the contrast between two actors, Barrymore, whose Hamlet was the greatest of his time, and Andrew Reilly, a hot, young television star played by Teddy Waddell.
“Being not just an actor, but also an assistant director means a bigger time commitment, so it can be challenging at times,” Lowe said. “This is compounded by the fact that I’m juggling two plays at once. My shows at Seabrook always seem to coincide with my shows at Harbour Playhouse, so if I’m not working on one show I’m at the other. I’ve also been watching old footage of Barrymore during my lunch break (it’s the only time I ever get to sit down). It’s important to me to get the character just right, so I’ve been studying what he did with his vocal range and cadence as well as his expressions.”
Rounding out the talented cast is veteran actress Bonnie Reichel and newcomers Kyle McCort, Berkley Pearl and Heather Green.
Reichel, who plays a wry, tough “Lillian” with a no-nonsense quality in Act I and then surprises the audience with a moonlight love scene with real emotion in Act II, has been acting since the age of 7.
“Lillian was a challenge, but I worked on the German accent, and once I had it, she seemed to follow,” Reichel said. “There are two scenes I like in particular; I love it when ‘Felicia’ goes into her trance, and I absolutely love the seduction scene. Both are very fun and funny.”
Tickets start at $17 with discounts available for seniors, military, students and groups of 10 or more. Parking is free.
For information and tickets, visit www.harbourtheater.com or call 281-337-7469.