In celebration of William Shakespeare’s birthday, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s touring performers will present “Hamlet,” the Bard’s most popular play. This one will have a modern touch. By the way, did you know that Shakespeare is known as the best-selling fiction author of all time?

In trying to set a birth date for the performance, we learn more about “Hamlet” than we do the Bard. Even taking a trip to Stratford Upon Avon a few years ago and asking people who you’d think would know, most said when asked when he was born, “Somewhere between April 21 and 26.” It’s like asking who is buried in Grant’s Tomb and hearing, “John Wilkes Booth!” The records at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford Upon Avon has recorded Shakespeare’s baptism as April 26, 1616, and as the baptism in those days was usually three days after the birth, assuming he was born in Stratford Upon Avon or near, and his mother could travel … well, you get the picture. The late Chris Farlekas’ birthday was April 23, and he always said he was born on Shakespeare’s birthday. Chris wasn’t always bound by facts, but he had lots of friends and always a birthday party, so April 23 is printed in our minds.

The most accommodating date for the performance of ‘Hamlet” at SUNY Orange’s William and Helen Richards Theatre at Orange Hall on the Middletown campus will be Saturday, April 21. And so, the curtain will rise at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and if ordered anytime online at, add $2.50. The box office opens an hour before the show. Students are always admitted free.

Director Devin Brain describes the play as “the preeminent example of his understanding of humanity and his skill in crafting a tragedy that is both moving and entertaining.” He further comments, “The play is as complex as a human being, with an overabundance of fascinating human struggles: politics, revenge, love, legacy, parenthood, morality, and even theater; and beneath all of the rest, this is a play about death.”

Nora Wilcox, the company’s associate director of education, describes the play this way: ”A company of seven diverse actors, which includes James Parenti, Jarrod Bates, Bonnie Antosh, Anamari Mesa and Jo’Lisa Jones,  playing all roles, with some gender-blind casting. The actors never leave the stage during the performance, but sit in chairs on either side of the playing space until their next entrance. The majority of the music is actor generated, using both instruments and other objects on stage.” It’s certain to be entertaining.

The performance is sponsored by the Evelyn and John Morrison Advised Fund through the SUNY Orange Foundation.

Coming up

• The 13th annual Volunteer Appreciation and Recognition dinner will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Montgomery Senior Center. Karen Denisi of Montgomery will be honored, and so will Scotts Corners Hardware as “Outstanding Vendor.” This year’s main Platinum sponsors are Ranni Law Firm in Florida and Montgomery Nursing and Rehab Center. Tickets for the general public are $20. Honorees are free. Food is catered by Ceil and entertainment is provided by “Side-by-Side.” For information, call 457-4138.

• A Tricky Tray fundraiser to benefit St. Columba Church in Chester will be Friday at the Chester Elementary School. Doors open at 6 p.m. Calling starts at 7:30. Tickets are $40, which include six sheets of tickets, 20 on a sheet. There are more than 120 gift baskets. Presale tickets have to be paid in full before the doors open. For information, call 469-9404.

• The Chester Library will have a Volunteer Fair from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Chester Historical Society, 47 Main St. Email Maureen Jagos at to include your nonprofit.

• A spaghetti and meatball dinner will be served from 4-7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Rock Hill Firehouse. Tickets are $9, $6 for children under 12. Children under 5 are free. Takeout will be available. For information, call Lisa Bittinger at 791-9731.

• San Miguel Academy of Newburgh will host its 7th annual Walkathon & Open House Saturday. The walk begins at 9 a.m. at the Academy, 245 Renwick St. Transportation is provided to and from the bridge. The walk will be over the Newburgh Beacon Bridge. Last year 150 participated..

This and that

The West Point Band will present a concert at 7 p.m. at the Tarrytown Music Hall, 13 Main St. in Tarrytown. Titled “American Celebration,” it is free and open to everyone. To RSVP, visit

Barbara Bedell’s column appears daily. She can be reached at 346-3125 or by email: