As You Like It at Shakespeare Theatre Company
What could be better than Shakespeare and Beatles music together?
This is what you get with this production of As You Like It at Harman Hall. It is a fun romp from the pre-show, to the last note.
In As You Like it the first part of the play has been called a Machiavellian political tragedy. Dame Senor is exiled from court, along with Senor’s niece Rosalind. Then Orlando is disinherited by his older brother, and they all arrive in the forest of Arden. They are joined by others who travel with them and then the fun begins. Each wooing someone and falling in love. Rosalind and Orlando finally find each other but not before Rosalind has pretended to be a man, and Orlando and his brother Oliver have made up.
Now this production, recognizable in some ways as the play Shakespeare wrote, has been conceived, and brilliantly directed, by Daryl Cloran, of Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. He has mashed up Shakespeare with the Beatles, and updated it to London in the sixties, and Beatlemania. The production includes a wealth of the Beatles songbook including; "We Can Work It Out", "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "The Fool on the Hill," "When I am 64," "Can’t Buy Me Love," among so, so, many more.
You know something is different about this show when you first enter the theater and see seats around three sides of the stage. In the center of the stage is a big wrestling ring. Before the show even officially begins, you are treated to a pre-show with wrestling reminiscent of the WWE. Some fun wrestling, singing, and dancing. Throughout the production I was incredibly impressed with where they found actors who can wrestle as if they were in the WWE, are athletes, singers, and dancers. Yes, some are better at one thing or the other, but collectively they are all great.
Some of the standouts are Chelsea Rose as Rosalind, and Jeff Irving as Orlando. Matthew MacDonald-Bain, as Oliver de Boys; Evan Rein, as Amiens; and Matthew lp Shaw, as Mustachio. But then again, the whole cast is great and they mesh together perfectly.
The wonder of this production is also totally reliant on the incredibly talented creative team to bring it together. Music Director, Ben Elliott; Choreographer and Fight Director, Jonathan Hawley Purvis; Scenic Designer, Pam Johnson; Costume Designer, Carman Alatorre; Sound Designer, Alistair Wallace; Lighting Designer, Gerald King; and Pre-show content and Comedic Contributions, Kayvon Khoshkam.
I would suggest you take the whole family to see As You Like It. It will be at Harman Hall through January 7th and tickets are available online. You won’t regret it.