Review: AS YOU LIKE IT on STNJ's Outdoor Stage Intrigues with Humor and Romance

AS YOU LIKE IT on STNJ's Outdoor Stage

By: Jul. 01, 2024
Review: AS YOU LIKE IT on STNJ's Outdoor Stage Intrigues with Humor and Romance
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“I can live no longer by thinking.” By Orlando in As You Like It

Under the starlit skies at St. Elizabeth University, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) is presenting William Shakespeare’s As You Like It on their Outdoor Stage. This summer entertainment happening is a real crowd-pleaser for all ages. With the creative directorial talents of Jemma Alix Levy and featuring a marvelous cast, each moment of the show is entrancing. We attended opening night when families, couples, friends’ groups, and patrons going solo were delighted by the performance. Even if you have attended a production of As You Like It before, this one is exceptional, a must-see.

Review: AS YOU LIKE IT on STNJ's Outdoor Stage Intrigues with Humor and Romance

As You Like It is one of the Bard’s best-known pastoral plays.  It contains one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches that commences with “All the world’s a stage,” delivered by the character Jacques. The story is full of wit, romance, and action brought to life by a host of vibrant characters including royals and country dwellers. The story is set primarily in the Forest of Arden where Rosalind ventures into the woods dressed as a man to seek her exiled father, Duke Senior. She is accompanied by her dear cousing, Celia.  It becomes a complex and humorous situation when Orlando encounters Rosalind in the forest.  While he does not recognize the fair maiden in disguise, he is longing for Rosalind who he had met previously in the royal court.  And other curious romances are budding in the forest as the future of the royal families takes shape.

Review: AS YOU LIKE IT on STNJ's Outdoor Stage Intrigues with Humor and Romance

The cast doesn't miss a beat as they deliver The Bard's clever, fascinating dialogue.  The troupe features a number of thespians known to STNJ audiences. They include Jeffrey M. Bender as Duke Senior/Charles; Clark Carmichael as Jacques/Duke Frederick; Emily S. Cheng as Phoebe/Amiens; Christian Frost as Oliver/Sir Oliver Martxt/William; Brianna Martinez as Celia; Billie Wyatt as Rosalind; and Jason Schlaman as Silvius/Exiled Lord #1.  Newcomers to The Shakespeare Theatre include Jennifer Joplin as Audrey/Le Beau/Corin; Matthew Radford Davies as Touchstone/Adam; and Jose Gamo as Orlando. Members of the cast that play multiple roles make their character transitions so seamlessly that you will be convinced there are many more players.

Review: AS YOU LIKE IT on STNJ's Outdoor Stage Intrigues with Humor and Romance

Exciting, fast moving scenes will keep you wondering what will happen next. Some of the unforgettable moments include Orlando arguing with his older brother, Oliver over their father’s legacy; Charles and Orlando’s wrestling match; Rosalind and Celia making plans to go to the forest; Orlando’s poetry composed for Rosalind; the shepherdess Phoebe leading beautiful ballads; Rosalind in her male disguise lending romantic advice to Orlando; Jacques’ dramatic and poignant speech; Silvius longing for Phoebe; and the comical romance between Touchstone and Audrey.  These are just some of the many moments that you will recall long after you leave the theatre.

The Design Team has done a wonderful job of bringing a natural and attractive setting to the Outdoor Stage.  The Team includes scenic design by Gabbi Trice; costume design by Paul Canada; lighting design by Jason Flamos; original music by Alexander Sovronsky; and fight direction by Doug West.  The production stage manager is Jenna Gregson.

Review: AS YOU LIKE IT on STNJ's Outdoor Stage Intrigues with Humor and Romance

With its comic intrigue and a joyous ending, you will leave As You Like It with a smile on your face. Make an afternoon or a night of it. Visit the bucolic grounds of St. Elizabeth University early to have a picnic and you are also welcome to bring food and drink when you are seated in the Greek Theatre. Low back beach chairs, seat pads and picnic blankets are recommended for your comfort at the show.

We applaud Artistic Director, Brian B. Crowe on the success of The Outdoor Stage production and look forward to the season ahead!

As You Like It will be on The Outdoor Stage at St. Elizabeth University from June 19 through July 14.  It will be performed Tuesday at Sunday at 8:00 p.m.; with special twilight performances on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are typically $40-$45.  The Theatre is proud to continue its $30 Under 30 discount program for patrons under 30 years of age (with a valid ID), as well as its Free Tix for Kids for young people under the age 17.  Patrons can reserve their tickets by calling the STNJ Box Office at 973-408-5600 or by visiting their website at www.ShakespeareNJ.org.

Photo Credit: Avery Brunkus



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