Review Roundup: Public Theater's AS YOU LIKE IT in the Park
The Public Theater's AS YOU LIKE IT, the first show of The Public's 50th Anniversary season at the Delacorte, officially opened last night, June 21 and continues through Saturday, June 30.
The complete cast of AS YOU LIKE IT features Brendan Averett (Charles), Andre Braugher (Duke Senior/Duke Frederick), Donna Lynne Champlin (Audrey), Jon Devries (Corin), MacIntyre Dixon (Adam), Susannah Flood (Phoebe), David Furr (Orlando), Renee Elise Goldsberry (Celia), Robert Joy (Le Beau/Lord), Jesse Lenat (Amiens), Omar Metwally (Oliver), Oliver Platt (Touchstone), Lily Rabe (Rosalind), Will Rogers (Silvius), Michael Rudko (First Lord), Stephen Spinella (Jaques), and Brendan Titley (William).For additional information, visit: www.publictheater.org
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles Isherwood, New York Times: In grateful response the Public has given the city its own celebratory gift by mounting an absolutely smashing production of "As You Like It" that exemplifies the virtues of Shakespeare in the Park at its best - warmth, vigor, accessibility and lucidity - and also proves to be the funniest and most rewarding production of this rich, complicated comedy that I have yet seen.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: Shakespeare in the Park's new "As You Like It" strikes stirring and memorable chords. And not just when it comes to the twangy bluegrass melodies by Steve Martin (yes, as in "The Jerk") performed by a band throughout the song-infused play. Director Daniel Sullivan's staging - the first of two shows toasting the 50th anniversary of the Delacorte - is uniformly well-acted (a rarity) and always accessible. It also boasts some thoughtful surprises.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: Something special is happening here: The parts may not all be great, but the sum is simply wonderful. Best of all, it's a perfect fit for the Delacorte Theater, to the point that you can't tell where the stage ends and Central Park begins.
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: ''As You Like It'' is again a reminder - should one ever be needed - of why the Shakespeare in the Park program is so magical. Led by Lily Rabe as Rosalind and David Furr as Orlando, and augmented with new and wonderful bluegrass music written by Steve Martin, it is smart, confident and triumphant.
Wilborn Hampton, Huffington Post: Sullivan has transposed the play to red-clay, piney-wood country sometime in the mid-19th century. A bluegrass combo wanders in and out of scenes, providing foot-stomping, hoedown music composed by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) and Greg Pliska for Shakespeare's songs. The palace in John Lee Beatty's set is a log fort complete with watchtower that rolls away to reveal Central Park's natural setting for Arden Forest. A fight director provides a rather bloody wrestling match, and there is even a dead deer on the prop list.
Howard Shapiro, Philadelphia Inquirer: In The Public Theatre's delightful production of As You Like It, which opened the 50th season of Shakespeare in the Park at the open-air Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, you'd swear the forest of Arden is somewhere in Appalachia. And why not? Shakespeare infused the play with songs for which he wrote "hey-nonny-nonny" lyrics, and now comes Steve Martin - who knows a thing or two about banjos and such - to score the Bard. The result is a toe-thumping rhythm that complements the production's own beat and adds a proper party element to this comedy of the lovelorn.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: Sullivan directs this action with such briskness and lightness of touch that the play's wildly contrived ending – saintly transformations, righted wrongs, multiple marriages – is arrived at without the nagging sense of artifice that often accompanies Shakespeare at his most whimsical.
David Cote, Time Out NY: Lily Rabe takes on the sparkling but thorny Rosalind and injects her witticisms with hints of sadness. This is a Rosalind who loves so hard it makes her cry. In the often-thankless role of Celia, Rosalind's friend, the lovely Renee Elise Goldsberry finds some sassy notes. David Furr makes for a bashful but dashing Orlando. And Stephen Spinella luxuriates in Jaques's famous melancholia. Even the clown roles of Touchstone and Audrey draw laughs, thanks to inspired silliness by Oliver Platt and the gung-ho Donna Lynne Champlin.
Michael Sommers, NJ Newsroom: Director Daniel Sullivan relocates the story to the rough-and tumble world of 1830s backwoods America. Everyone sports picturesque clothes (designed by the great Jane Greenwood, who knows motley better than anyone) and they all dance occasionally to frisky, fiddle-driven tunes composed to Shakespeare's lyrics by Steve Martin.
Marilyn Stasio, Variety: From the minute that Lily Rabe stepped onto the stage of the Delacorte as Portia, in helmer Daniel Sullivan's wonderful 2010 production of "The Merchant of Venice," we all had visions of her as Rosalind in "As You Like It." How sweet it is, then, to watch this captivating actress take command of a role she was born to play.