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As You Like It

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Tastes in Shakespeare plays have changed over the years, but As You Like It has retained its status as a favorite among performers and audiences alike. Rosalind is a dream role for any young actress, and, if the play is not as filled with popular quotes as Hamlet, Jaques’ “Age of Man” speech always makes the audience sit up and take notice.


Shakespeare’s wise and witty dissection of various types of romantic coupling shows him as an artist who has matured and grown in his understanding of human nature since his early, more knockabout comedies. It also allows the Antaeus Company to get back to its classical roots for the second production in its new theatre.


Director Rob Clare is a renowned Shakespeare specialist who has worked internationally as a director, a teacher, and a coach. His production is clean and coherent with the text, aside from a few opening night bobbles, spoken with admirable clarity. But the comedy feels rather subdued, as if Jaques’ melancholy has permeated the proceedings.

This approach shows merit in allowing some of the smaller roles to be seen more as characters than caricatures. For example, Le Beau (Todd Waring) is not the stereotypical fop, but a perceptive courtier. Clare gets some comic mileage from frequently breaking the fourth wall, but the heart of the play, the courting scenes in which the disguised Rosalind (Sally Hughes) teaches Orlando (Matthew Gallenstein) how to be her lover, are disappointingly earthbound.

As this is Antaeus, it goes without saying that the cast is strong. Steve Hofvendahl’s nicely homespun Corin easily gets his laughs and generates a true comic spark without overplaying. The same can’t be said for the usually effortlessly excellent JD Cullum’s portrayal of Touchstone. Though he’s fine in the dialog scenes, his comic turns, one of which is done as a stand-up parody, feel more frantic than funny.

Wayne T. Carr’s Oliver is quite believable in his conversion from Orlando’s wicked brother to a caring man worthy of Celia’s heart, and Desiree Mee Jung is courageous and fiercely loving as Celia. Though she doesn’t seem to be having much fun on her adventure. Karen Malina White is a delightfully feisty Audrey, and John Bobek displays both his guitar-playing skills and a strong voice as Amiens. He, apparently, wrote some of the music as well. Mitchell Edmonds is a quietly dignified Adam.

James Sutorious’ Jaques is a wonderfully rich characterization, the contrary philosopher and dedicated bachelor who finds the multiple marriages at the play’s end a cause for despair rather than celebration. Hughes and Gallenstein make an amiable couple despite a lack of erotic charge between them. Hughes’ Rosalind feels much more in control when schooling Anna Lamadrid’s flighty Phebe and Paul Culos’ stalwart Silvius than she ever manages when instructing Orlando.

Francois-Pierre Couture's simple set design of columns and archways with scalloped edges feels Moorish, though none of the music indicates that influence, and Jeffrey Schoenberg’s colorful costumes seem designed more for character than for any specific style. The only indication that most of the play takes place in the forest comes from the gobos in Leigh Allen’s lighting.

As with all Antaeus shows,  the roles are partner cast, so a visit during the run might present a radically different group of performers.

Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center    July 27 – September 10, 2017




Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.