Pinsonnault is the king in the wings in Fortinbras
|By James Sanford|
It’s only 1:30 in the afternoon, and Evan Pinsonnault confesses he’s “worried about falling asleep.”
It’s not from a lack of coffee and it’s certainly not boredom. It’s the punishing schedule he’s set up for himself, which starts with a 2:15 a.m. wake-up call for his job as the morning and noon news anchor at WLNS-TV. Typically, he would stay up for a few hours after work — “do some physical activity, maybe play golf” — and then get to bed around 8 p.m.
But now his evenings are taken up with rehearsals for “Fortinbras,” which opens Friday at Riverwalk Theatre. Pinsonnault has the title role in the comedy, a kind of “Hamlet” spoof/postscript.
“It’s not what you’re thinking,” he says. “It’s not Shakespeare — but we do shake a few spears.”
Seconds after the entire royal family of Denmark is wiped out, the Norwegian prince Fortinbras arrives in court to find corpses everywhere. “I’m on my way back from the wars against the Poles — just stopped in to say hi — and look at this!” he remarks.
Iambic pentameter is not part of the program in Lee Blessing’s script.
Fortinbras takes the throne and immediately starts doing damage control. “I’m saying, ‘Nobody wants to think the royal family was incompetent and they all killed each other, so I’m going to make up a new story,’” Pinsonnault explains.
His revisionist history scheme runs into some otherworldly obstacles, however, when the ghosts of Hamlet, Gertrude, Claudius and company show up.
But Fortinbras still finds time for “a little tomfoolery with the ghost of Ophelia, played by the wonderfully talented Abby Murphy,” Pinsonnault says. “You gotta feel sorry for this girl: The best time of her life is after she’s died.”
Pinsonnault has a lengthy list of stage credits dating back to his days as a kid in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, which he calls “one of the nation’s theater capitals.”
He minored in theater while pursuing a political science degree at George Washington University, then rediscovered his love of performing while working as an anchor at WMAZ- TV in Macon, Ga.: “I think I did 14 shows in two and a half years,” he says.
Since relocating to Lansing last year, Pinsonnault has been seen as the Baker in Riverwalk’s “Into the Woods” and as cynical Navy lawyer Sam Weinberg in “A Few Good Men.”Pinsonnault wasn’t necessarily looking for a new project, but he was intrigued when he got a message from “Fortinbras” director Ken Beachler asking if he was interested in the show.
“When I read the script, I was laughing out loud,” Pinsonnault says. Now, he’s hoping he can make the audience do the same.
“Comedy’s like a song: Everybody may like the lyrics, but if you sing it off-key … .” Pinsonnault shakes his head. “But Ken did an amazing job putting together this ensemble. Everybody’s so into their roles, so committed to their choices, that I can feed off of it. Ken’s a tremendous director in that he knows when something’s funny; he has a wonderful sense of character.”
To cope with weeknight rehearsals, Pinsonnault is snoozing in shifts. “My goal is to sleep two or three hours in the afternoon and then get three hours at night,” he says. “This is the constant war I wage, the battle between my body and my mind. But I love what I’m doing.
“The last thing I want is consistency and boredom — I’ve gotta be able to mix things up.”