Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces

Raúl Esparza as Hamlet

Award-winning actor of stage and screen takes on Shakespeare’s most iconic role

Staged by Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, April 17–June 9, 2019
Complete casting to be announced


Chicago—October 11, 2018—Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces that four-time Tony Award nominee and Law and Order: SVU alum Raúl Esparza will lead William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, staged by Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, in the Courtyard Theater, April 17–June 9, 2019. Esparza takes on the iconic title role of a grief-stricken Prince of Denmark as he attempts to navigate his father’s death, betrayal, and relationships torn asunder in one of the great masterworks of Western literature. Complete casting to be announced in the coming months.

Raúl Esparza’s expansive performance career bridges stage and screen—having most recently appeared as a series regular in the past six seasons of NBC’s long-running drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba. He has become a mainstay on Broadway, with leading performances in Company, Arcadia, Speed-the-Plow, The Homecoming, Leap of Faith, and Taboo. A three-time Drama Desk Award winner, Esparza has notably been nominated in every Tony Award category for which an actor is eligible in both plays and musicals, making him only the second performer in history to accomplish the feat. Earlier this year, he appeared in a star-studded concert production of Chess at the Kennedy Center. Hamlet marks Esparza’s return to Chicago, where he made his theatrical home for nearly a decade, performing at Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, and Victory Gardens.

Director Barbara Gaines returns to Shakespeare’s most charismatic character for the first time in more than twenty years. As a leading director of Shakespeare internationally renowned for her populist and dynamic interpretations, Gaines has staged more than sixty productions at Chicago Shakespeare throughout her distinguished career, garnering the prestigious Honorary OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best Production (Hamlet, Cymbeline, King Lear, and The Comedy of Errors), and for Best Director (Cymbeline, King Lear and The Comedy of Errors). Her production of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 was featured in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works Festival in 2006. She has directed Verdi’s Macbeth and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Gaines shared, "It's a joy to be able to create and celebrate Hamlet with Raúl—who was positively born to play this role. His natural charisma, never-ending curiosity, and generosity of spirit will fill our stage with wonder. The prospect of examining this story alongside such an outstanding artist is thrilling.”

Joining Gaines on the Hamlet creative team are Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Costume Designer Susan E. Mickey, Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel, Sound Designer Lindsay Jones, Projection Designer Mike Tutaj, and Wig and Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie. Tyrone Phillips will serve as the production’s Associate Director.

Full casting to be announced in the coming months.

Hamlet is presented in Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater, April 17–June 9, 2019. Single tickets ($48–$88) are on sale now. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets for patrons under 35. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

For more information, visit

Chicago Shakespeare strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. Accessible performances for Hamlet include:

  • Audio Description – Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. with optional touch tour at 12:00 p.m.
  • ASL Duo Interpretation – Friday, May 31, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Open Captioning – Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.


Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be—a company that defies theatrical category. This Regional Tony Award-winning theater’s year-round season features as many as twenty productions and 650 performances—including plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe. Chicago Shakespeare is the city’s leading producer of international work, and has toured its own productions across five continents. The Theater’s nationally acclaimed arts in literacy programs support the work of teachers, and bring Shakespeare to life on stage for tens of thousands of students annually. Each summer, the company tours a free professional production to neighborhood parks across Chicago. In 2017 the Theater unveiled The Yard, which, together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs, positions Chicago Shakespeare as Chicago’s most versatile performing arts center.

# # #



Contact Us

Hannah Kennedy
Public Relations Director
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Media Office

Cathy Taylor
Cathy Taylor Public Relations

Chicago Shakespeare Theater
on Navy Pier
800 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

Additional Pages