Witty verbal exchanges, disguises, dysfunctional families, many lovers trying to find the perfect mates, and four marriages to end it all. Sounds like a lot to fit into one play, but William Shakespeare did just that in his pastoral comedy As You Like It, which is the spring production of the Lees-McRae College Performing Arts program.
As You Like It will be presented February 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. and February 26 at 2 p.m. in Hayes Auditorium in the Broyhill Theatre.
Since its possible debut in 1599, As You Like It has been considered one of Shakespeare’s most entertaining comedies. Duke Frederick has overthrown his brother, Duke Senior, and banished him into the Forest of Arden. Oliver de Boyes mistreats his younger brother, Orlando, and eventually Orlando is forced to flee the court and hide in the forest, but not before falling in love at first sight with Duke Senior’s daughter, Rosalind. Frederick then banishes Rosalind, who disguises herself as a boy and flees with Frederick’s daughter, Celia, into the forest.
That’s when all the fun begins.
“We see their paths converge in the forest where things are not always as they appear,” said Dr. Michael Hannah, director of As You like It and associate professor of performing arts. “Rosalind and Celia hide their true identities to test Orlando’s love.”
What follows is a story of love, deception and redemption as the characters contrast life in the socially restrictive court with the freedom they find in wild nature. The woods are dangerous, but they also allow the characters to behave in ways that would never have been acceptable in the civilized court.
The Lees-McRae production is set physically in the American Midwest around the middle of the 1800s. Hannah said this choice, plus the fact that the actors are not using British dialects, hopefully brings the timelessness of Shakespeare’s story to life for a modern audience.
The cast for As You like It is large, Hannah said, because he wanted to give as many students as possible their chance to be involved. Rosalind is portrayed by freshman Taylor Noll from Fredericksburg, VA., while her love interest, Orlando, is played by senior Andy Duggins from Winston-Salem. Other cast members include senior Naythen Rinehart from Kill Devil Hills as Duke Frederick, sophomore Sabrina Becker from Oneida, New York, as Celia, freshman Logan Bryant from Burnsville as Oliver, senior Sammy Campbell from High Point as Touchstone, sophomore Bradley Sowell from Yorktown, Virginia, as Duke Senior, and freshman Mark Williams from Virginia as Jaques.
The full cast is as follows: John Michael Sloan as Adam, Lucas Childress as Charles, Peggy Ellyn Wasmund as Phoebe, Jakob Sanchez as Silvius, Lee DeWeese as Corin, Aubrey Pond as Le Beau, Mekayla Boswell as Audrey, Sarah Emaline Melton and Cole Kennedy as Amiens, Sarah Gentry as Hymen, Alice Gomez as Dennis, Katelyn Dancy as Jaques de Boys and Kyndsey Rounds as William. Appearing as various lords and ladies are Novita Hardy, Ashley Hartwig, Rayna Theriot, Kelsey Martin, Anna Parrish, Kellyn Hawley and Ali Spencer.
Tickets are available at the door one hour before the performance and are $12 for adults and $5 for non-Lees-McRae students. For more information, call the box office at 828-898-8709 or go to lmc.edu/pashows
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