Plans for the Classical Theatre Company production of Hamlet have been in the works for some three years now. Executive Artistic Director John Johnston was rehearsing a scene for Ghosts with actors Matthew Keenan and Christianne Mays when he realized Keenan and Mays were perfect for Hamlet. ''I stopped taking notes on Ghosts and started taking notes on Hamlet because I saw the famous closet scene from Hamlet starting to unfold,'' Johnston tells us. ''I thought these guys would be great to build this show around.''
Johnston and company have set about making Hamlet their own, without introducing any changes in the dialogue or plot. ''We want to preserve the words and the language since that's what persevered for so many years, but through different production elements or themes, there's a shift in perspective for certain characters. We all know how Hamlet ends — everyone's dead at the end. That's not going to be any different.'' What is going to be different, Johnston tells us, is the company's use of the recent National Security Agency scandal to inform the characters. ''The play is ripe with spying and intrigue and blackmail and manipulation, just like the NSA spying scandal was. There are parallels between Edward Snowden and Hamlet. They're two people who are very isolated from everyone around them. They're two people who are not quite villains, not quite heroes, but somewhere in between.''
8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and September 16, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Through September 29. Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex, 2201 Preston. For information, call 713-963-9665 or visit classicaltheatre.org. $20.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Mon., Sept. 16, 8 p.m. Starts: Sept. 12. Continues through Sept. 29, 2013