The Bard Goes Bluegrass In An Abbreviated “As You Like It” At SATE

Asyou-group-Rachel,Alyssa,Jason,Chris

The cast and musicians of SATE’s “As You Like It” rock the Ozarks. Photo: Joey Rumpell

In a clever and charming adaptation by director Ellie Schwetye, Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” takes on a country flavor- the Ozarks in 1929 to be exact- and the results are satisfying. It all takes place in the latest production from Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE). Running only a little over 90 minutes, it takes a lot of liberties with the original script but you can’t help but like Orlando, Rosalind and the rest of the gang with a hillbilly twang and a lot of musical twang to accompany them.

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Mollie Amburgy as Phebe and Chris Ware as Silvius in “As You Like It” at SATE. Photo: Joey Rumpell

With a lot of gender-bending and bringing back that style that was so popular with Broadway musicals a while back- actors playing instruments on stage- this works much better than some of those musicals did. In fact, a few clunkers along the way help add to the charm of this production. Jason Scroggins is musical director and composed some of the music and even takes a turn at acting in the role of Forester. The wild and wooly Rachel Hanks tackles a couple of roles and blasts a mean trumpet. She even gets to perform the musicalized version of Shakespeare’s famous “Seven Stages” soliloquy.

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Orlando (Kevin Minor), Oliver (Will Bonfiglio) and Celia (Katie Donnelly) in SATE’s “As You Like It.” Photo: Joey Rumpell

Will Bonfiglio and Katie Donnelly come closest to matching Shakespeare’s original intent of a classical reading of their characters but all of the actors bring us a combination of Homeric and home-spun. Kevin Minor is a dashing Orlando and Cara Barresi is a delightful Rosalind. Alyssa Ward takes on a “pants” role as does Rachel Tibbetts. The wonderful Mollie Amburgey returns to town to handle the Ozark belter as Phebe and Chris Ware, Alyssa Ward and Tonya Darabcsek round out the cast- most of whom play multiple roles throughout.

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Rachel Hanks and Kevin Minor in the Ozark adaptation of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” at SATE. Photo: Joey Rumpell

Bess Moynihan brings us an outstanding lighting design and doubles up with director Ellie Schwetye on the clever set design. Elizabeth Henning’s costumes are the flavor of the period. This is a pleasant and unexpected treat- the shortest version of “As You Like It” you’re ever likely to see but one that will keep you entertained and your toes tapping. You’ve only got through February 13th to see it, so make plans now to visit Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE) to join in the fun.

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