As You Like It by Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, PA
April 15, 2019
Review submitted by Victoria Carcillo of Sun Valley High School
With romance, humor, and adventure, Abington Friends School's production of As You Like It truly embodied Shakespeare's classic play with a bit of modern flair. This romantic comedy was written by Shakespeare in the late 16th century, and it tells the tale of Rosalind and Orlando as their love for each other grows with the many adventures they encounter along their journey. When Rosalind gets banished, she and her cousin, Celia, seek shelter in the Forest of Arden, but Rosalind decides to disguise herself as a young man named Ganymede, and Celia disguises herself as his sister, a shepherdess named Aliena. This adds some fun to their time in the forest as Ganymede decides to help Orlando "woo" Rosalind. The musical direction incorporated into this production by Halle Jacobson and Noah Vinogradov added a fun and creative twist to this Shakespearean play. The song "Bottom of the River" created a unique but very enjoyable way to open the show and was performed beautifully by the cast as well as many of the other vocal performances throughout the show. Devyn Costello-Henderson portrayed her character, Rosalind, exceptionally well and was able to make it very clear when she was shifting between Ganymede and Rosalind when this could have been easily confusing for the audience. Also, Clay Lewis wonderfully captured Orlando's essence with fluid movements and facial expressions to portray his love-struck character. Additionally, Ifeanyi Odita was outstanding as Celia, and with great chemistry between her and Rosalind, her performance was very believable as a loyal cousin. Cole Lewis (Touchstone) provided comical relief throughout the show and never ceased to impress with his comedic timing and his humorous facial expressions. The amazing, but more importantly, functional set in this production allowed for easy shifts from scene to scene and interactions with the set itself. Not only this, but the musical tracks played during set changes as a simple household transformed into a lovely forest made these periods very entertaining for the audience. The lighting used in this show was another fantastic aspect of this production as it set the tone for each scene in an eye-catching way. Though taking on this Shakespearean play was not an easy feat, Abington Friends School's unique interpretation of As You Like It along with its talented cast and crew made this production a success.
Review submitted by Lionel McCulloch of PA Leadership Charter School's Center for Performing and Fine Arts
Action, romance and tomfoolery abound in Abington Friends Upper School's production of the classic As You Like It, where the stakes may be low but the poetry is pumpin'! One of William Shakespeare's pastoral comedies, As You Like It follows the banished Rosalind on her quest to find her father, the duke who was ousted before her. Disguised as a young boy, Ganymede, to avoid violence in the forest of Arden, Rosalind bumps into Orlando, a boy she had a crush on when she was at court. Orlando is pining for Rosalind, but since she is disguised, she decides to keep him on the hook by pretending she is a boy. While she teaches Orlando how to be a proper lover, Orlando struggles with fear that he is falling for a boy, a fool turns out to be full of wisdom and a happy ending is assured. By updating Shakespeare with modern music to connect the audience to the language, the Abington Friends production conveyed the story with a complex understanding of the text. Confident physicality and precise comic timing combined with a mobile modular set and live music performed by the actors provided an organic and contemporary comprehension of the play. Devyn Costello-Henderson's gender bending heroine, Rosalind, performed the role with graceful whimsical physicality. She teased and joked, plotted and flirted, making Shakespeare's language seem modern and meaningful. Matched in comfort and confidence was young roustabout Orlando, played by Clay Lewis. Their amazing chemistry revealed the discomfort Orlando feels falling for a young boy, and the wink and nudge that Rosalind gives knowing the truth. Each small ensemble, the court, the household, the banished band in the forest of Arden and the country folk brought their own musical style to the play. When all of the ensembles combined, they harmonized beautifully. The fool, Touchstone, played by Cole Lewis, was equally powerful when speaking as in silence, showing himself to be the wisest man on stage. Prajeev Robison's warm lighting complimented by a well-used cyclorama and practical fire effects created an enchanting environment. A vagabond set by Josiah Perez moved around the stage easily, creating many worlds with a shift of the portable pieces. The fool knows that all the world's a stage but Abington Friend's production of the lyrical As You Like It, conjures a natural world of whimsy, wit and wonder.