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As You Like It

a Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 4745

SHOWING : June 18, 2015 - July 12, 2015

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

“All the world’s a stage . . .” We invite you to join us on another trip into Shakespeare’s enchanted woods. . . where Rosalind disguises herself as a man as Orlando litters the woods with love notes praising her beauty and virtue. Will the two lovers be united? Will Orlando survive the wrestling match? Will you have a great time? Here’s a hint: this summer, there’s no better place to be than in Shakespeare’s woods at The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Andrew Houchins
Adam/Hymen Tony Brown
Celia Kirsten Calvert
Phebe/Dennis Becky Cormier
Silvius/LeBeau Nicholas Faircloth
Rosalind Dani Herd
Oliver Paul Hester
Orlando Jonathan Horne
Jaques Chris Kayser
Jaques de Boys/Sir Oliver Martext/Willia Adam Daniel King
Charles the Wrestler/Duke Senior Vinnie Mascola
Amiens Mary Ruth Ralston
Touchstone Jeffrey Stephenson
Audrey Kristin Storla
Duke Frederick/Corin Troy Willis
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REVIEWS

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As You’ll Ache It
by playgoer
Friday, July 3, 2015
4.5
Shakespeare throws a lot of ingredients into "As You Like It" -- pastoral characters, royalty in exile, cross-dressing, romance, humor, and melancholy. The New American Shakespeare Tavern has scrambled them together with slapstick and served up a messy, runny omelet of enjoyment.

The main story involves Rosalind, daughter of a banished Duke, who is herself banished and disguises herself as a boy, taking along the ruler’s daughter, Celia, with whom she is fast friends. Dani Herd plays Rosalind as a gawky Great Dane puppy of a character, full of boundless, bounding energy. Kirstin Calvert plays Celia as the quirky best friend of a rom-com, supportive and comic in equal measure. Both are excellent.

The other females in the cast are also in fine form. Kristin Storla plays Audrey, a country wench, wringing every possible bit of "country" and "wench" out of her performance. Becky Cormier Finch plays shepherdess Phebe, whose slack-jawed, lovesick expressions for Ganymede (Rosalind’s male disguise) never fail to please. Mary Ruth Ralston sings and plays guitar with charm and grace, and has done some fabulous fight choreography. (The wrassling match near the top of the show is hilarity in physical form.)

None of the men give bad performances, but the balance seems a little off. Part of this is due to the script, which introduces characters in a somewhat haphazard fashion, with some popping up early, some late, some briefly, and some with long intervals between entrances. Multi-casting adds its own complications (with kudos to Troy Willis for a lightning-fast change from the imperiously unpleasant Duke Frederick to the rustic Corin). Sometimes minor characters (Vinnie Mascola as Charles) steal focus, making lead characters (Paul Hester as Oliver and Jonathan Horne as Orlando) appear somewhat bland in comparison. Sometimes multiple characters seem to serve the same purpose in the story, with Jeffrey Stephenson’s Touchstone and Chris Kayser’s Jaques both equal parts clown and philosopher.

For me, the heart of the production was in J. Tony Brown’s underplayed performance. While officially cast in two roles (the servant Adam and Hymen), his sweet, loyal demeanor remained constant throughout, providing a central spot of calmness as plot and comedy raged around him. The soft sincerity of his performance in large measure balanced the over-the-top qualities of the rest of the production.

Director Andrew Houchins has provided pleasing stage pictures through his blocking and has inspired his cast to give energetic, well-spoken performances. (Everyone projected well.) Matt Felten’s lighting design gives an Arden Forest sun-dappled look to the stage, which I found somewhat distracting when an actor would move inches from a brightly lit position to one where shadows played across his face. Costumes, by Anné Carole Butler, work well and don’t draw a great deal of attention to themselves.

This production of "As You Like It" is not a cleanly constructed manifestation of a director’s overriding vision, but it’s a hoot and a half. Credit the actors for giving their all to entertain the patrons of the New Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern. And credit Bo Gaiason for some pretty nifty music that adds to the overall Elizabethan effect.
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