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The FATE and Applause! Youth-Theater Production of “As You Like It” Has a “Star Wars” Theme

"As You Like It" runs Aug. 4-7

"As You Like It" runs Aug. 4-7

The Cary, NC-based Free Association Theatre Ensemble and Applause! Cary Youth Theatre will present a modern-dress youth-theater production of William Shakespeare’s knee-slapping pastoral comedy, As You Like It (1599-1600), on Aug. 4-7 as the inaugural theatrical presentation at the new Cary Arts Center (formerly the Old Cary Elementary School, now renovated).

“I believe I first read this play in high school,” says FATE founder and As You Like It director Julya M. Mirro, “but I became infinitely more enamored and familiar with the Bard in college. I have never produced or directed As You Like It, although I was in a project production in college, playing the roles of Duke Senior and Audrey.”

She adds, “[Applause! Cary Youth Theatre director] Rachel Green … and I sat down together some time ago and decided that we wanted to collaborate on a project which offered the older youth of Applause! an opportunity to work with adults, and one that gave the adults and youth of FATE an opportunity to work with a new group.

“When considering the plethora of plays out there,” Mirro says, “we agreed on one thing — that Shakespeare was the way to go! We agreed that for our first foray into such a large scale production for both of our organizations, it should be fun, and so we settled upon a comedy.

“From there,” says Mirro, “the selection came from choosing something people would know, but [something] that wasn’t currently in production nearby. We knew that producing something by the Bard would enable us to offer education to those unfamiliar or without much experience in his style, and that was beneficial to the mission of Applause! By setting the play in a unique way, with creative casting, FATE’s mission was also met.”

Director Julya Mirro notes that the FATE/Applause! Production of As You Like It will have a Star Wars theme.

“It has been a joy to learn more about the Star Wars legacy,” admits Mirro, “although, to be clear, we are only relating our show to the original three movies — Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi – not Episodes V, VI, and VI. You will not see anything relating to Jar Jar Binks, for example …. Rachel [Green] and I received a lot of input and support on the Star Wars end from participants in the production, many of whom are big fans!”

Mirro adds, “The thing that I like best about [the text of] this show … is that it offers many opportunities to poke fun at theatrical constructs, the power of familial and amorous feelings, and has — in my opinion — one of the best monologues in all of his works. I was interested in directing it because it is a Shakespearean production which lends itself to interpretation, and conceptualization. But truly, the thing I like best about our production of this show is the way the concept of setting it in the world of Star Wars has encouraged and inspired so many people, and the way that the text and characters lent themselves to readily to the overlay in correlation!”

Julya Mirro thumbnails the plot of As You Like It as follows:

“After her father Duke Senior (Kurt Benrud) is banished by his younger brother Duke Frederick (Philipp Jens Lindemann), Rosalind (Bethany DuMond) is sent away into exile for supporting an upstart, young Orlando (Karthik Sundaram), who beat the infamous [wrestler] Charles (Jim Azarelo). Rosalind’s closest friend, and cousin, Celia (Carly Woolard), decides to run away with her and the court clown, Touchstone (Ryan Huemmer). They, in true Shakespearean tradition, run away to same forest which harbors the exiled Duke Senior and his posse, including the melancholy Jacques (Ezra Brain), Amiens (Cassie Wladyslava), [a couple of] Lords (Allison Ruvidich and Kelsey Mason), and Jedi (Noelle Barnard, Tiffany Clark, and Hayden Patterson).

“Meanwhile, Orlando runs away from home and his mean-spirited and jealous brother Oliver (George Kaiser), leaving with the servant Adam (Nick Larkins) [and] landing in the same forest [as Rosalind, etc.]. In the forest, there are other trials and tribulations, support for the newcomers in Corin (Bonnie Roe and Jim Cox), hysterics from some Ewoks (Grace Jensen and Alex Mertz), unrequited love from Silvius (Robert O’Connor) and Phebe (Camille Wright) and William (Charles Robson) and Audrey (Stacie Whitley).”

“Back at court, Duke Frederick and his band of unhappy men, including Lords (Tara Boldrin and Selena Beckman-Harned) and Stormtroopers (Meredith McNamee, Hope Riner, and Oliver Vest), are angry about the departure of [the duke’s] daughter Celia; and they, too, become involved in the forest shenanigans.

“The story also includes the plotting Dennis and LeBeau (Ian Vesperman and Jarrett Lefler, respectively), a lost Sir Oliver Mar-Text (Irene Rockwell), a delightful deus ex machina in Jacques Second Brother (Casimir Nair), and new music by the talented Hymen (Nyssa Cave).”

In addition to director Julya Mirro, who co-produces As You Like It with Rachel Green, the joint production’s creative team includes assistant director Rachel Green; fight choreography Jim Azarelo and his assistant Noelle Barnard; technical directors Julya Mirro and Cailen Waddell; set designers Ellen McCauley, James McNatton, Julya Mirro, and Sean Zeringue; lighting designers Katie Ward and her assistants Cailen Waddell and Michael Lefler; costume designers Lauren Polack, Colin Rudd, and Alex Vandermaas-Peeler, and their assistant Stacie Whitley; properties managers Colin Rudd and Alex Vandermaas-Peeler; sound designer James McNatton, and stage manager Deirdre Lewis. As You Like It also features original music by: Nyssa Cave.

Director Julya Mirro says, “The set consists of three separate locations: The Rowland House (Cloud City), The Court (Death Star), and the Forest of Arden (Forest Moon of Endor). We represent each space with flying materials to distinguish locations and representative iconic items to address the Star Wars counterparts. Overall, we use as much of the Cary Arts Center Theater environment as possible, encompassing use of the … aisles, apron, and all of the main stage!”

Mirro adds, “The lighting is designed to help distinguish the areas and locations, [and] also [offer] atmosphere and some effects….

“Each of the characters in the text has a Star Wars counterpart,” Mirro emphasizes. “Thus, the costumes are representative of their ‘counterpart’ in the Star Wars trilogy (…. They are designed to inspire the audience to infer the Star Wars character they represent.

Mirro notes, the most challenges of staging As You Like It at the new Cary Arts Center was “learning the appropriate correlations between As You Like It and Star Wars, creating and implementing the largest scale set either Applause! or FATE has ever had, and trying to make use of everyone’s skills and ideas.”

She adds, “This show has been a delightful labor of love for all of us involved, and we owe special thanks to the brand new Cary Arts Center and their TD (Cailen Waddell) for taking the time to show us the (new!) ropes. We are honored to be the first full production in the new space, and hope that the audience will be encouraged to create and attend more collaborations of this kind!”

The Free Association Theatre Ensemble and Applause! Cary Youth Theatre present AS YOU LIKE IT at 8 p.m. Aug. 4-6 and 3 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary, North Carolina 27511.

TICKETS: $15 ($10 students), except $8 apiece for groups of 15 or more.

BOX OFFICE/GROUP RATES: 919/469-4069 or http://event.etix.com/.

SHOW: http://www.fate4.us/current.html and http://www.townofcary.org/.

PRESENTERS:

Free Association Theatre Ensemble: http://www.fate4.us/.

Applause! Cary Youth Theatre: http://www.townofcary.org/.

VENUE: http://www.townofcary.org/.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://maps.google.com/.

OTHER LINKS:

The Play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_You_Like_It (Wikipedia).

The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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