"AS YOU LIKE IT" A LOT TO LOVE
By Bonnie Goldberg
The Forest of Arden is running wild with creatures, from peasants and shepherds to members of royalty and they'd like your company. Feel free to dress in the modish styles of hippies and flower children so you'll feel right at home; bring a sunflower or a bunch of daisies, and skip over to the green grounds of the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford until tonight, Sunday, August 3 at 6 pm for Jazz on the Lawn and at 8 pm for the show and later to McLevy Green, 999 Broad Street in the center of Bridgeport, from Wednesday, August 6 to Sunday, August 10. There you'll be delightfully entertained by the Connecticut Free Shakespeare Company's magically romantic tale by William Shakespeare "As You Like It."
Imagine an evening under the stars as you lounge comfortably on lawn chairs or blankets (you provide yourself) and nibble a light evening snack (you provide or purchase on site). This talented troupe of 26, from the age of 5 on up, will bring this comic tale to life right before your eyes. On a unique woodland set designed by Elizabeth Popiel, bedecked with florals, with magical lighting by Sebastian Pacznski, you will hear the tale of an angry Duke Frederick (Anthony Vaughn Merchant) who has stolen the royal title and exiled his older brother Duke Senior (also portrayed by Anthony Vaughn Merchant) into the Forest of Arden. Frederick has permitted Duke Senior's daughter Rosalind, a delightful and daring Hannah Dubner, to stay at court to keep company with Frederick's only child, Celia, an adventurous Caitlin Chuckta.
These are not the only two brothers divided by enmity. Oliver de Boys, a spiteful Eric Brian Nyquist, after inheriting their father's fortune, denies his brother Orlando, a spirited Mark Friedlander, an education, so Orlando enters a wrestling match against the champion Charles, a combative Ian Eaton, and, to everyone's surprise, wins.
Orlando's act of foolish bravery causes Rosalind to fall in love with him, and vice versa, but Oliver's increased fury makes Orlando flee to the Forest of Arden to save his own life. True to the Bard's plot turns, Rosalind follows him, disguising herself as a male page, Ganymede, while Celia runs away too, playing Ganymede's sister.
Once in the forest, Cupid's arrows fly hither and yon as the country folk Audrey (Liliane Klein) is pursued by William (Scott Redmond) and also by the court jester Touchstone (Jacob Heimer). The shepherdess Phoebe (Regina Gibson) is chased by Silvius (Alton Alburo) but she has her heart set on Ganymede (Rosalind in disguise). When Orlando, who is busy posting poems of love to Rosalind on every tree in sight, meets Ganymede, she/he determines to cure him of his affections for Rosalind.
As one of the Bard's favorite tricks, when all seems lost, everyone finds their true love, all the plots of revenge are foiled and "all's well that ends well."
This Equity cast, under the excellent direction of Ellen Lieberman and Executive Producer Bert Garskof, puts their hearts and souls into making sure everyone has a great time. The serenading of 1960's music is a delight. Only Jaques, (Ian Easton), the middle of the de Boys brothers, shuns this frivolous life and decides to enter a religious order. Perhaps if he listened to the wise advice of Corin (Katie Sparer), a country philosopher, he would be happier of heart. How could anyone hear music of the Beatles and be anything but groovy?
While the performances are free, donations of all sizes are most welcome. A special added treat at Friday night's show were the guests from Victoria, Australia, Ontario, Canada, Prince Edward Island, Canada, Warwickshire, England and Taranaki, New Zealand who are in Stratford CT as part of the Stratfords of the World Reunion 2014. A room of the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre has displays of photographs and costumes from the years the theatre was in its former glory. Be sure to visit it if you go.
Pack a picnic and the kiddies and let CT Free Shakespeare entertain you with tales of revenge and romance.