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All-Female Cast to Bring AS YOU LIKE IT to Center Stage This Winter

As a year-long renovation begins at Center Stage's downtown Baltimore home in January, the company starts a temporarily residency at Towson University with a contemporary production of Shakespeare's popular comedy AS YOU LIKE IT, presented by an all-female cast led by award-winning director Wendy C. Goldberg, from Jan. 15 to Feb. 14.

With lines that have been in vogue for centuries, including "all the world's a stage," AS YOU LIKE IT tells the story of lovers Rosalind and Orlando who, when forced to flee into the Forest of Arden, become ensnared in a game of romance and mistaken identity.

"I started my career in DC, and have long wanted the opportunity to work at Center Stage," Goldberg said. "AS YOU LIKE IT, Shakespeare's most gender-bending play in the canon, invites this sort of imaginative exploration of gender and identity, and we are in a moment where these ideas of self are being deeply challenged. Also, if we're very honest with ourselves in the theater right now, which mirrors the world, women are being locked out of all aspects and opportunities in our field, and here is a chance for a group of women to have experiences they may never have again, to create this new version of an old classic.

Goldberg is in her 12th season as artistic director of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference, which under her tenure was awarded the 2010 Regional Tony Award. Her directorial credits include multiple productions at: Arena Stage, the Guthrie, the Goodman, Denver Center, Signature Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse and others. She was also represented on Broadway as creative advisor to long-running musical Rock of Ages.

"Working on our fresh take with Wendy and this incredible company of women has offered daily discoveries," said Center Stage Associate Artistic Director Gavin Witt, who has adapted this version of AS YOU LIKE IT and is the production's dramaturg. "AS YOU LIKE IT is hilarious and insightful, and has a youthful, rebellious energy that fits perfectly with our residency at Towson University."

More than half of the 18-person cast are local actors, including six exceptional Towson University theater students in ensemble roles. Principle roles are played by: Julia Brandeberry as Le Beau/Audrey, Charlotte Booker as Touchstone, Julia Coffey as Rosalind, Liz Daingerfield as Charles/Silvius, Margaret Daly as Adam/Duke Senior, Celeste Den as Duke Frederick/Corin, Tracey Farrar as Amiens/Sir Oliver Martext, Sofia Jean Gomez as Orlando, Mattie Hawkinson as Celia, Angela Reed as Jaques, Jenna Rossman as Phebe and Tia Shearer as Oliver. Ensemble members are: Rose Hahn, Sydney Faith Pope, Allie Press, Yakima Rich, Kathleen Whitby and Mani Yangilmau.

In addition to Witt as dramaturg, Goldberg leads a creative team that includes Arnulfo Maldonado (scenic designer), Anne Kennedy (costume designer), Josh Epstein (lighting designer), Matt Hubbs (sound designer), Karma Camp (choreographer), Cliff Williams III (fight choreographer), Heather Christian (music director), Elissa Goetschius (assistant director), Laura Smith (stage manager), Kayla Whisman (production assistant) and Pat McCorkle (casting).

With this spring marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, Center Stage is embracing the bard's legacy not only with this fresh production of AS YOU LIKE IT, but also with Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah's direction of Twelfth Night for the Public Theater's popular Shakespeare in the Park series this summer in New York City, and Kwei-Armah and Witt's reimagining of Richard III in contemporary language for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

AS YOU LIKE IT begins previews at Towson University on Friday, Jan. 15, opens Friday, Jan. 22, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 14. Press Night for AS YOU LIKE IT is Friday, Jan. 22. AS YOU LIKE IT is approximately 1 hour, 50 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission, and is appropriate for ages 6 and older. For more information, visit www.centerstage.org or call the box office at 410-332-0033.

AS YOU LIKE IT and Detroit '67, Dominique Morisseau's contemporary play set in Detroit amongst a backdrop of Motown and civic unrest (April 8-May 8), will be held in the Towson University Center for the Arts' 330-seat Mainstage Theatre, a space roughly the same size of the upstairs Head Theater at Center Stage's Calvert Street facility, but with a configuration similar to the company's 541-seat Pearlstone Theater (minus the balcony).

Center Stage plans to be back in the Calvert Street building for the 2016-17 Season, after work has been done toward creating a redesigned 400-seat Head Theater, new lobby and entrance plaza, a new 99-seat theater space, and a dedicated education and community programming studio by Baltimore architecture firm Cho Benn Holback + Associates and U.K.-based theater designers Charcoalblue.

T. Rowe Price is the production sponsor of AS YOU LIKE IT. Media sponsor is Maryland Public Television. Center Stage is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business and Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the MSAC is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Center Stage's 2015-16 Season is made possible by Season 2015-16 presenting sponsor M&T Bank and season sponsor The Shubert Foundation.

Under the leadership of playwright, actor and director Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE (Artistic Director) and national arts leader Stephen Richard (Managing Director), Center Stage is an artistically driven institution committed to engaging, entertaining and enriching audiences through joyous and bold performances. Hailed by The Wall Street Journal as "one of America's leading regional companies," Center Stage has, for more than 50 years, dedicated itself to exploring new works and bringing classics to life. This rich history is marked by critically acclaimed new works that have shaped the American theater -- from the Tony Award-winning The Triumph of Love to world premieres such as Miss Evers' Boys by David Feldshuh and On the Verge by Eric Overmyer. In 2015, Center Stage's production of Kwei-Armah's world premiere Marley became the best-attended and highest grossing show in Center Stage's 53-year history.


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