As the cast dances in the aisles of Keegan Theatre, it’s difficult not to catch the contagious, rose-colored energy from this musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery. I left bobbing to a handful of upbeat songs playing on repeat in my head. And with several somber, but just as catchy, numbers to balance out the joyful nature of the rest, As You Like It is the kind of treat that isn’t too sweet (thank goodness).
As You Like It starts with the angsty and sarcastic Jaques (Caroline Dubberly) playing the keyboard—several of the actors double as part of the pit orchestra—and singing the beautifully Regina Spektor-esque number: “All the World’s a Stage.” … So much happens in the forest of Arden: love triangles, battles with lions and snakes, hunts, marriages—there’s certainly a lot of ground to cover in 95 minutes. Phillip Reid as the jester Touchstone [is] boisterous on stage, stealing the show alongside Nigel Rowe, who plays his love interest Andy, when they sing “Will U Be My Groom.”
This musical that serves up positive messages of growth and acceptance, As You Like It is also a visual delight. With a stage setup that places audience members close to the action, it’s like sitting in the middle of a fairytale pop-up book adorned in vines, flowers, and fairy lights. I fell in love with the costumes of Duke Frederick’s court—which remind me of the clothing and hairstyles featured in the sci-fi film The Fifth Element—they’re a dazzling and futuristic spectacle thanks to the talents of costume designer Jeanette Christensen and hair/makeup designer Craig Miller.