One of the Bard’s most popular and delightful romantic comedies, As You Like It, opens July 27 at Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale. Antaeus has gained a reputation during its years in the NoHo Arts District as one of the foremost acting ensembles doing classical work in Southern California. The cooperative theater ensemble’s mission is to create a family of artists and audiences and is dedicated to exploring stories with enduring themes. Taking their company name from Titan who gained strength by touching the earth, Antaeus members, many of whom audiences will recognize from film and television, regain their creative strength by returning to the wellspring of live theater.
Audiences will never see an understudy because of the company trademark of “partner casting,” which they use to maximum effect; sometimes the same role will be played by different genders, race or age. The actors say working this way leads to a very special kind of collaboration and audiences often return a second time to see the same play in the hands of an equally excellent but very different set of actors.
Internationally recognized Shakespeare specialist Rob Clare directs As You Like It, a play full of shrewd observations about life, love, and human nature. It follows the story of Rosalind, daughter of a banished Duke, forced into exile in the Forest of Arden. When her uncle threatens to have her killed, Rosalind disguises herself as a man for safety’s sake and uses the disguise to test the devotion of her admirer Orlando, another exile, and teaches him lessons of the heart. Unable to act on their feelings, Rosalind and Orlando become entangled in a beguiling game of love, lust, and mistaken identity. Truly one of Shakespeare’s great comedies in the able hands of the Antaeus actors.
“Shakespeare was not only ahead of his time, he was ahead of ours – we have some catching up to do,” suggests Clare. “This is a play that asks important questions about the nature of life and the meaning of love. As joyful and uplifting as it is, the characters are not simple. The wonderful intimacy of the Antaeus space gives us the chance for a close-up view of their remarkable complexity and individual truths.”
Among the stellar cast, local audiences will recognize the always wonderful Elyse Mirto from her delightful performance in Figaro at A Noise Within and her dynamic turn in Collective Rage at Boston Court. She shares the role of Audrey with Karen Malina White. Julia Davis and Sally Hughes share the role of Rosalind, with Desiree Mee June and Abigail Marks partnering as Celia. Matt Gallenstein and Daisuke Tsuji play Orlando, with Wayne T. Carr and Daniel Dorr portraying estranged brother, Oliver. Also in the two casts are Brian Abraham and John DeMita as Duke Frederick, Bernard K. Addison and Even Gordon as Duke Senior, Tony Amendola and James Sutorius as Jaques, JD Cullum and Adam J. Smith as Touchstone, Alberto Isaac and Steven Hofvendahl as Corin, Paul Culos and Adam Meyer as Silvius, Anna Lamadrid and Erin Pineda as Phebe, John Bobek and Ian Littleworth as Amiens, Ben Atkinson and Luis Kelly-Duarte as Charles, Mitchell Edmonds and Tim Halligan as Adam, Janellen Steininger and Todd Waring as Martext and Sedale Threatt Jr. as Jacques de Boys.
According to Antaeus co-artistic directors Bill Brochtrup, Rob Nagle and John Sloan, “As You Like It shows us the courage of a young woman breaking out of the constraints of her world and starting anew in the Forest of Arden, where the rules are much more fluid. Funny, hopeful, sad and wise, this play moves us through all the seasons of the heart.”
Performances are at the new Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center located across from The Americana at Brand and is a part of the growing arts and entertainment community in Glendale. The center includes an 80-seat theater, a 45-seat performance/classroom space, a theater classics library and a lobby art gallery. The current exhibition in the art gallery is a photo exhibit by Ayaka Kinzel, viewable through September 10; all artwork is available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds going to Antaeus Theatre Company.
Performances of As You Like It take place July 27 through Sept. 10 on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. (no matinee performance on Saturday, July 29). Six preview performances take place July 20 through July 26. Tickets are $30 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $34 on Saturdays and Sundays. Preview tickets are priced at $15. The Kiki and David Gindler Performing Arts Center is located at 110 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205 (between N. Brand Blvd. and Maryland Ave.). The first 90 minutes of parking is free, then $2 per hour, in Glendale Marketplace garage located at 120 S. Maryland Ave (between Broadway and Harvard). The theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call 818-506-1983 or go to www.antaeus.org.