Austin Shakespeare Brings Austin Singer-Songwriter Music to The Bard's 'As You Like It'
Posted on November 20, 2019 by LONG CENTER STAFF
Our friends at Austin Shakespeare embark on their next seasonal production with Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, but with some characteristic Austin flair. Read on to find out about this singer-songwriter twist, and make sure you make it to one of the 12 performances beginning Friday, November 22.
We are delighted to be performing music and lyrics from Austin singer/songwriters in our new production of As You Like It. Shakespeare created more opportunities for songs in this play than in any of his other. We relish moments of music from Guy Clark, Tish Hinojosa, Guy Forsyth & Brian Keane, Christine Albert & Chris Gage, Chip Dolan, Susan Gibson, Nagavalli, Richard Leigh & Susanna Wallis Clark, Helyn Rain Messenger and Walt Wilkins, whose songs develop the parallel love stories in this romantic comedy. Centered on “Rosalind,” disguised as a boy, teaching “Orlando,” we meet three other couples who fall in love during their journey through the forest of Arden.
With acoustic guitars and fiddle, our professional actors include musicians and singers. Here is what some of our actors have to say about their experience:
“This show is a ROMP! Every character is so colorful and vibrant, bringing you into the world of the Forest of Arden where lovers learn, quarrel and serenade. The music in this show adds a touch of Texas modernity and an acoustic rawness to Shakespeare’s classic hilarity. To have this opportunity to play Phebe, one of my all-time favorite characters that Shakespeare ever wrote, and to also have one of my original tunes in the show is a huge honor. This is a truly one of a kind production of As You Like It.” — Helyn Rain Messenger, who plays Phebe.
“As You Like It speaks to the nature lover in me. Nature, in its beauty and brutality and gentleness, has always been a nurturing and restorative element of my life. The outdoors is where I go to seek for, and to become, the best person I can be. I aspire to be like Duke Senior, finding ‘tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.’” — Chuck Winkler who plays the Duke.
“As You Like It is an expert blend of Shakespeare’s witty comedic stylings and deep truths about human nature. The cast and designers have worked hard to bring both these elements to light, with a bit of Texas flair to bring Shakespeare’s brilliant insights to a familiar setting. This is one show you don’t want to miss!” — John Michael Hoke who plays the wise shepherd, Corin.
“As You Like It is for anyone who wished that Shakespeare had written a musical. I think it’s the music that makes this story so endearing and heartwarming.” — Patrick Aaron Harris, dramaturg
“We as actors have such a great time while we perform, that I believe audiences will sense that excitement immediately. The show is hilarious, heartfelt, and sincere. Plus, singing, dancing, fighting, and love. What more could you ask for?” — Matthew Wagner who plays Orlando, the lover.
As we do for every show, each of these 12 performances will be followed by a Talk Back with actors and director. For As You Like It, we will be joined in several Talk Backs by one of our Austin singer/songwriters as a special guest!
And to set you on the right Shakespearean course, here’s a synopsis from Patrick Aaron Harris, our resident dramaturg.
Rosalind is left with only the company of her cousin Celia and the fool Touchstone after her uncle Frederick usurps her father’s dukedom. Elsewhere, Orlando has a violent confrontation with his brother Oliver about the poor treatment he’s received since their father’s death. In retaliation, Oliver plots to have Orlando killed during a wrestling match at the new duke’s court. But on the day of the wrestling, Orlando overcomes his opponent and meets Rosalind, and both are immediately taken with each other. But before their romance can blossom, Orlando is run from his home by another of Oliver’s murderous plots and Rosalind is driven into exile in the forest of Arden. There she encounters colorful local characters including a lovesick shepherd and a taunting shepherdess, and Rosalind has a chance to win Orlando’s affections (as long as he doesn’t mind her boyish disguise).
Catch As You Like It in the Rollins Studio Theatre November 22 – December 8!