As You Like It

AS-YOU-LIKE-IT

Last Saturday, I attended a Teen Takeover performance of “As You Like It” at Classic Stage Company. An earnest, willowy high schooler seated me with charming hesitation. The teen ushers brought a fresh energy into the theater that lasted through the performance.

John Doyle’s staged another spare, stripped down adaptation and I enjoyed every minute. Hanging globes represent Arden, and their colors change with the emotional temperature. Songs written by Stephen Schwartz, punctuate the drama, with the actors doubling as musicians and singers. (A Doyle-ism.) The cast is diverse – all races, ages, shapes and sizes – and loaded with camaraderie and Broadway cred. Like: Cass Morgan (“Big River”) as Old Ann/Audrey; Leenya Rideout (“War Horse”), as the grappling Phoebe; Kyle Scatliffe (“The Color Purple”) as a towering Orlando with a beautiful smile; scene-stealer, André De Shields (“The Wiz”) who broke the fourth wall to call out the person whose phone went off; the captivating Quincy Tyler Bernstine (“Peer Gynt”); Hannah Campbell (“A Man For All Seasons”) as amorous, cross-dressing Rosalind; and the master class that is Ellen Burstyn (“Same Time, Next Year”) as melancholy Jacques (“All the world’s a stage . . .”). Such a gift to hear Shakespeare’s hallmark speeches in her voice, the voice of a woman playing a man.

In the end, love abounds, and around the theater in the round, audience members – young and old – were smiling. And I didn’t see one single person nod off. A first at CSC!

Pia Ehrhardt

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