‘To be or not to be’: Meet the leading lady of Sac State’s ‘Hamlet’

Senior McKenna Sennett steps into the Prince of Denmark’s shoes


Jack Freeman

Lead actress McKenna Sennett sits on a bench in front of Shasta Hall theater on Thursday, April 7, 2022. Sac State’s production of “Hamlet” runs from April 1 to April 10 and can be attended in the theater.

Jack Freeman, staff writer

Accepting the role of “Hamlet” in Sacramento State’s production was not a question for senior theater major McKenna Sennett.

“Hamlet” is Sennett’s first leading role at the university, she said.

Sennett said she grew up doing small acting roles in her church when she was around the age of seven. Her passion for theater lasted throughout high school, according to her, where she acted as the treasurer for Vacaville High School’s theater club. 

When she graduated and left for Sac State, however, Sennett said the passion slowed for her because of how she was raised.

“I didn’t do any acting the first year or two after I graduated high school just because I didn’t consider it a career path at the time,” Sennett said. “[I] definitely grew up in a household where pursuing something you’re passionate about, if it happens to be an art form, wasn’t necessarily encouraged.”

Theater became Sennett’s main focus after she took part in a performance of “Peter and the Starcatcher” at Solano College Theater, she said.

“The first time I felt like acting was something I wanted to do was the first college show I did at Solano College,” Sennett said. “I did the show, fell in love, and changed my major shortly after.”

Sennett participated in more Solano College theater productions before fully making the jump to become a theater major, according to her. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Sennett said she was set to act in a Sac State production of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, before it was canceled. After the  pandemic forced all classes to go online, future theater productions were moved to Zoom for online streaming. 

According to Sennett, however, these shows never hit quite the same way.

“I never ended up doing a Zoom show,” Sennett said. “It just didn’t feel the same to me. There’s something different about having a live audience.” 

The start of the spring 2022 semester at Sac State marked the first time in nearly two years that almost every student was back on campus and live in-person performances soon followed. 

McKenna Sennett (left) lunges back from an attack from Jacquez Cosby (right) during fight choreography practice in Shasta Hall theater stage on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Sennett said this her first time doing sword choreography, adding that she thinks it’s going well. (Jack Freeman)

The theater program’s newest production, William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” will be Sennett’s first performance at the university.

“This is going to be my first time performing live at Sac State,” Sennett said. “I am all kinds of excited, a little nervous, but honestly not too much.”

Hannah Medler, a senior playing the role of Ophelia in the play, attested to Sennett’s theatrical prowess. Medler said she thinks Sennett is perfect for the role.

“I knew she was going to get Hamlet from day one, just because she has an energy about her,” Medler said. “She just has this way of owning a space with her presence and inflection.”

Director of the play and part-time faculty member at Sac State Christine Nicholson agreed with the glowing praise from Medler.

“I chose [Sennett] because she is amazing,” Nicholson said. “She came to auditions prepared, hungry, ready to go. She did her homework, she went for it; there was no doubt.”

Sac State’s rendition of Hamlet opened on April 1 to the general public and will continue showing until its final showing on April 10 at the theater in Shasta Hall.