BWW Review: AS YOU LIKE IT at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey Charms
"We that are true lovers run into strange capers."
By Touchstone in As You Like It
The Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey (STNJ) welcomes the fall season with a show that is a real crowd pleaser. William Shakespeare's treasured romantic comedy, As You Like It is being performed through September 29. The highly esteemed play was written by the Bard between two of his most celebrated tragedies, after Julius Caesar and before Hamlet. The show features the excellent direction of Paul Mullins who incorporates clever touches in the show. And the charming cast is ideal in their roles. This is the first time in over twelve years that As You Like It has been performed by STNJ. It's a great opportunity to see the theatrical jewel.
The spirited and passionate story tells of Rosalind who has been exiled by Duke Frederick. Rosalind makes plans to travel to the Forest of Arden disguised as a man accompanied by her cousin, Celia. But before Rosalind departs, she attracts the attention of a handsome young man, Orlando who longs for her. Orlando also travels to the Forest of Arden, a place inhabited by a host of lively characters and there, romance flourishes.
Simply stated, you'll love the cast. The accomplished troupe is led by STNJ veterans, Anthony Marble as Jacques; Ben Jacoby as Orlando; and Nick Corley as Touchstone. They are joined by a newcomer to the theatre, Safiya Kaijya Harris who plays Rosalind. The cast is rounded out by Sarah Nicole Deaver as Celia; Torsten Johnson as Oliver; Devin Conway as Phoebe; Earl Baker, Jr. as Duke Frederick/Duke Senior; Ryan Woods as Silvius; Elizabeth Colwell as Audrey; and Roger Rathburn as Adam/Corin. Jack LeGoff and Juliet Perrell perform a number of ensemble parts.
The play moves so swiftly and is so enthralling, the two plus hours of the show fly by. There are scenes that you will long remember including Rosalind's banishment by Duke Frederick; Orlando's fight with Charles and his first encounter with Rosalind; Duke Senior's gathering of friends in the Forest; Touchstone carrying Celia on his back as they travel; Orlando pinning love notes to Rosalind on trees; and Silvius' attempts to romance Phoebe. The production also has delightful music and famous speeches including the monologue "All the world's a stage" by the melancholy character, Jacques.
The Design Team has done a fabulous job of setting the mood for As You Like It. They include scenic design by Brittany Vasta; costume design by Nikki Delhomme; lighting design by Tony Galaska; sound and original music by Drew Weinstein; and fight direction by Rick Sordelet. The Productions Stage Manager is Jackie Mariani.
Make time to see As You Like It, a feel-good show that offers just what everyone enjoys, a bright, happy ending. We applaud STNJ's Artistic Director, Bonnie J. Monte and General Manager, Robert Worshinski for presenting another fine production for the Theatre's 2019 season.
As You Like It runs for two and a half hours with one fifteen minute intermission. It will be performed through September 29 at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Avenue (at Lancaster Road) Madison, NJ (located on the Drew University Campus). Tickets can be purchased by visiting https://www.shakespearenj.org/ or by calling the Box Office at 908.408.5600. Be sure to find out about their 30 under 30 program that provides patrons age 30 and under with tickets for only $30 with a valid ID.
Photo Credit: Joe Guerin