The main characters are Orlando (Michael Nicholas) , the youngest son of a knight, who has been denied both his financial and intellectual due by his greedy eldest brother, Oliver (Michael Young); and Rosalind (Mackenzie Possage), daughter of Duke Senior (Michael Cienfuegos-Baca).
Duke Senior has been overthrown and sent into exile by his “brother” Duke Fredrick (Chloe Hurkes). Orlando has come to Fredrick’s court seeking redress of his grievances against his brother, but finds no help there since his father was a partisan of the exiled Duke and Orlando is therefore on Duke Fredrick’s enemies list. He decides to seek his fortune in the greenwood with Senior and his followers, but not before being smitten with Rosalind.
Paranoid and jealous of Rosalind’s friendship with her own daughter, Celia (Nadja Simmonds), Fredrick banishes Rosalind. Celia, who loves her cousin as a sister, runs away to the forest with her, in the company of the loyal jester, Touchstone (Terry Lee Watkins, Jr.). For safety in travelling, Rosalind decides to adopt the disguise of a young man, “Ganymede.”
This sets up most of the comedy that follows. When the three reach Arden, they find trees festooned with love poems addressed to Rosalind from Orlando. Liking Orlando, Rosalind as Ganymede tests his devotion and determination by declaring that “he” will teach Orlando how to be a lover, by encouraging him to woo “Ganymede” as if Ganymede were his Rosalind, and then critiquing his efforts.
Meanwhile, the disdainful shepherdess, Phoebe (Madeleine Farley) who is loved by the shepherd Sylvius, gets a major but unrequited crush on “Ganymede.”
The intervals between advancements in the love story are taken up with Senior and his followers hunting, singing, and philosophizing. Jaques (Dan Callahan) gave a very relaxed and naturalistic rendering of the famous “seven ages of man” speech, which was punctuated with musical emphases by Amiens (Jake Zelinski).
There was a lot of running, jumping, and larking about appropriate to the story, which added to the joy of it and made it all good fun. All of the actors did well with their parts, and gave us Shakespeare’s dialog with good understanding and sense. This was one of the most musical productions of a Shakespeare play that I recall, with many of the “songs” being actually sung, and well sung. Musicians Kate O’Neill and Jessica Szuminski provided additional musical support, as well as entertaining sound effects for the pastoral scenes.
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