AS YOU LIKE IT
BRYANT PARK PRESENTS
SHAKESPEARE PERFORMANCES OF "AS YOU LIKE IT,"
Reviewing the original production, which was staged in the parking lot behind The Clemente on the Lower East Side, The New York Times wrote, "it’s easy to find magic here" and praised the leading performances as "wonderful by any standard."
"As You Like It" is a perennial favorite among Shakespeare's comedies. Its plot follows the banishment of Duke Senior, Orlando, Rosalind (who goes about in male drag to beguile the gallant Orlando), Celia, Oliver and Touchtstone to the Forest of Arden. In this refuge for those driven out of society, everybody gets lessons in love. The action is fierce in the first half: murders are attempted, ribs are cracked in wrestling matches, a brother is disowned, a niece is exiled and loyalties are sorely tested. For those who end up in the Forest of Arden during the second half, the perils are chiefly falling in love or being outwitted by wit. "As You Like It" introduces some of Shakespeare's most memorable characters, notably the sharp-tongued, ever-jaded Jacques. Each major character represents a quality of love: familial love is personified by Rosalind and Celia, brotherly love by the Dukes, Orlando and Oliver, the blind love of devotion by Silvius, the love of service by Adam and Corin, the love of self by Jacques and the love of lust by Touchstone.
In keeping with the play's magical spirit, director Hamilton Clancy transports this "As You Like It" into a timeless period with costumes that hint of the classical Victorian era. They become Steampunk when the scene shifts to the Forest of Arden. The idea is to address the core elements of romance and love by savoring the romantic magic of retreating from modern culture to an imaginary place where lovers can be free. "There is freedom in history, in a bygone era" says director Hamilton Clancy. Jennifer Varbalow will create a design for this production based on last summer's design by Leontine Greenberg.
Original music is composed by Natalie Smith and Andrew Gombas. Sound design is by Abby Grossman. The actors are Jane Bradley as Rosalind, Andrew Gombas as Orlando, Elaine Ivy Harris as Celia, Emanuel Elpenord as Oliver, Alessandro Colla as Touchstone, Hayley Simmonds as Audrey, Aaron Scott as Duke Senior/Fredrick, Andrew Dahreddine as Corin/Charles the Boxer, Rachel Collins as Phoebe, Brandon Reilley as Silvius, Bill Green as Adam, and Sara Glancy and Aly Talley as Company Players. Whitney Rich and Kelsey Kyle join the cast in the ensemble.
Reviewing the production's debut last summer, The New York Times (Ken Jaworowski) praised the production's gritty élan and the vivacious adroitness of its actors, writing "[Jane Bradley is] marvelous as Rosalind, heightening the humor with clever gestures and speaking the speech remarkably well, even over the din of nearby street noise. Her scenes with the fool Touchstone (an ever-sturdy Alessandro Colla) and her would-be beau, Orlando..., are wonderful by any standard." The review continued, "it’s easy to find magic here. Andrew Dahreddine, Elaine Ivy Harris and Rachel Collins in supporting roles add further spirit to a cast of 15 that’s uniformly enthusiastic."
Director Hamilton Clancy appears as the melancholy, cynical Jacques. As an actor, Clancy is best known for the recurring role of the prison guard Kowalski on "Orange in the New Black." He makes a notable appearance in "Billions" with Paul Giamatti and the upcoming HBO film, "Wizard of Lies." His films include Coen Brothers' "Burn After Reading," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" and "American Gangster." His other TV credits include "Third Watch," "The Unusuals," "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit," "The Onion News," "Days of Our Lives," "All My Children" and "Life on Mars." Clancy played a Minnesota hit man in The Drilling Company's long-running production of "The Norwegians" by C. Denby Swanson and led the cast in The Drilling Company's premiere of Swanson's "Atomic Farmgirl." His Off-Broadway credits include "The Retributionists" for Playwrights Horizons and "Dog Logic" for The American Place Theatre. For Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, he has appeared as Iago, Hamlet, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Petruchoio and Benedick. He is the Producing Artistic Director of The Drilling Company.
The original musical score by singer/songwriter Natalie Smith has been expanded for this Bryant Park Presents Shakespeare production. She appears live in the play, leading the chorus guitar-in-hand and playing the role of Amiens. Smith is seen regularly at Rockwoood Muscia Hall and Cornelia Street Cafe. Her 2015 debut album, "Take My Piano," blending pop, rock and American folk influences and rooted in her classical and jazz piano training, can be found on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. She made her Broadway debut in the Tony Award winning production, "One Man Two Guvnors."
Andrew Gombas takes over the role of Orlando. Gombas appeared last season in Bryant Park Presents Shakespeare as Valentine in "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet." Last month he appeared in Bryant Park as Claudio in "Much Ado About Nothing." Reviewing that production, The New York Times (Andy Webster) singled out Gombas for his vivid portrayal of Claudio’s wide-eyed gullibility and for his wistful duet, shared with Drew Valins, during the song-poem “Sigh No More." Gombas is also contributing additional music for "As You Like It."