BELFAST — The Belfast Maskers is reconstructing 2020’s production of William Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It. This telling of the tale is set in a late ‘60s/early ‘70s of the mind; featuring costumes, props, and scenery right out of that era. The language, however, is Shakespeare’s original tale of discovery, transformation, and, above all, the power of love.
The 2021 performances will take place “al fresco” on the front lawn of the Basil Burwell Community Theater, 17 Court Street, in Belfast. Shows are Thursday, May 20 through Sunday, May 23, at 7 p.m.
Attendees will be seated in the closed-off street in front of the theater and are advised to bring their own chairs. Audience members are asked to maintain a 6 foot distance from others with whom they did not arrive and to kindly wear a mask when not seated. Tickets are available now, online only, at https://belfastmaskers.com/events/.
The gender-changing Rosalind (Autumn Stupca) is the largest female role in Shakespeare’s body of work, arguably its only female leading role, according to Maskers, in a news release.
Against a backdrop of the sexual revolution and the “second wave” of feminism, she hits the road with her cohorts to escape the establishment and go “back to the land” in the Forest of Arden. Hunky Orlando (Dakota Wing), faced with his own hazards, tunes in, turns on, and drops out to follow her “back to the land.”
Also reprising their roles are Tom Crutcher (Jaques), Tyler Johnstone (Touchstone, a fool), Erin Hayes (Celia), Tucker Atwood (Oliver), Tom Maycock (Adam), Danielle Bannister (Frederica, the usurping Duchess), André Blanchard (Charles the wrestler and William), Mark Durbin (Duke Senior), Ken Kornfield (Le Beau, Second Brother), Riley Walauski (Silvius), Phoebe Norman (Lord Amiens), Scott Taylor (Corin the shepherd and Hymen), Azure Walauski (Audrey), Melora Norman, and Patricia Saucier (Forest Lords), and director Erik Perkins (Sir Oliver Martext).
Stepping into the role of the disdainful shepherdess (Phoebe) is Mirabelle Kutsy-Durbin, a well-known Maskers’ favorite, according to Maskers.
Jared Nickerson will adapt his lighting design to the new outdoor venue and Cassidy Small returns as Stage Manager. Angela Bonacasa was the fight director for the production and will oversee its modification to the new space. Belfast Maskers Artistic Director Meg Nickerson returns as producer.
“We’re really excited to open the 2021 season with this great production that had to be put on hold last year,” says Nickerson. “Although we had to close the 2020 production after only two performances due to COVID, the audiences gave rave reviews of this innovative Shakespeare classic.”
As You Like It is sometimes called Shakespeare’s “musical” because of the number of songs appearing in the text. Original music for these songs was written by Tom Crutcher, who plays Jaques, and performed by Lord Amiens (Phoebe Norman) and the band of hippies (Ken Kornfeld, Mike Nickerson, and Tom Maycock).
“A sonic landscape of underscoring and scene transitions was put together by Sound Designer Jay Rosenberg using gorgeous folk and rock from the time period,” said Maskers. “The groovy costuming of the cast was done by the dynamic duo of Sandy Hall and Linda Marie. Hair and makeup are overseen by long-time Belfast Masker, Diane Coller-Wilson.”
As You Like It is sponsored by First National Bank.