AS YOU LIKE ITby William Shakespeare, Adapted by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery
Music and Lyrics by Shaina Taub
Conceived by Lear deBessonet
Dallas Theater Center
Directed and Choreographed by Ann Yee
Music Direction by Vonda K. Bowling
Set and Costume Design by Lex Liang
Lighting Design by Amanda West
Sound Design by Andrea Allmond
Hair and Make-up Design by Jason Hayes
Jaques ---Tiana Kaye Blair
Young Rosalind --- Nathaly Valencia
Young Orlando ---Oceano Reza
Young Rosalind’s Mom --- Leticia Ramirez
Young Orlando’s Mom --- Maria Reza
Tween Rosalind ---Genesis Gonzalez
Tween Orlando ---Francisco Bolanos
Rosalind ---Tiffany Solano DeSena
Orlando --- Christopher Llewyn Ramirez
Minions --- Ron Adams, Michael Banegas, Candice Cogburn, David Diaz-Vega, Framcisco
Diaz-Vega,Alysia Giakoumas, Nicole Patterson, Carlos Arturo Ramirez, Joshua Stepney, PatriciaVega, Ericka Ventura, Ricky Woodruff
Poster Crew --- Janeth Araiza, Marianne Bray, Sharmaine Griffin, Gary Looper, Samantha Masucci, Morgan Ofenloch, Joyce M. Philllips, Imani Thomas
Flier Crew --- Jennifer Arteaga, Geraldine Cruz, Yesica De La Cruz, Hailey Smith
Adam --- Tom Morris
Oliver --- Rogelio “Roger” Pena
Bronco’s Agent --- Jenci Pavageaux
Celia --- Rebecca Weber
Ladies in Waiting in Rosalind’s Bed Chamber – Janeth Araiza, Gloria Barnes, Ivey Barr, Channing Black, Margaret Carter, Eleana Demus, Molly Fry, Diana Jaimes, Marie “Ann” Mitchell, Morgan Ofenloch, Christine Skibell, Hailey Smith, Dorothy Taylor
Touchstone – Ace Anderson
Announcers – Rosaura Martinez, Olivia Meredith
Duke Frederick – Fredrick jones
Sign holders – Alex Banegas, Anyeli Macz
Referee – Damon D. Richardson Jr.
Bronco – Norma Cruz
Bronco Supporters – Janeth Araiza, Rafael Araiza, Raymond Araiza, Axel Banegas, Demetria Gilbert, Danya Guerrero, Sara Guerrero, Maria Hernandez, Diana Jaimes, Maria Jaimes,
Gwendolyn McMillan Lawe, Thelma Lett, Anyeli Macz, Samantha Masucci, Willie B. McGee, Marie “Ann” Mitchell, Diana Napoles, Morgan Ofenloch, Joyce M. Phillips, Natalie Reyes, Christine Skibell, Hailey Smith, Martha H. Smith, Caryn Steine, Ruthy Suni, Dorothy Taylor, Debra Wallace-Washington, jane Zamudio
Frankie Flow – Samantha Campbell
Frankie Supporters – Francisca Arellano, Jarek Arellano, Francisco Bolanos, Geraldine Cruz, Karla Gonzalez, Cara Lawson, Gary Looper, Alan Ramirez,Leticia Ramirez, Carol Segura, Edmund Simpson II, Imani Thomas, Nathaly Valencia
Caveman – Terry Thompkins
Caveman Supporters – Yesica De La Cruz, Genesis Gonzalez, Leilani Gonzalez, Sandra Gonzalez, Ziza Gonzalez, Sharmaine Griffin, Shiri Gupton, Atticus Hendrickson, Sebastian Jaimes, Kimora Lacy, Igenell moten, Diana Napoles, Maria Ramirez, Luna Reza, maria Reza, Oceano Reza, Latricia Robinson, Tamika S. Sanders, Jacqueline Thomas, Aiden Valentine, Theo Washington
Singing Crew – Ivey Barr, Cara Lawson, Latricia Robinson, Carol Segura, Terry Thompkins, Aiden Valentine,
Reviewed Performance: 8/16/2019
Reviewed by Chris Jackson, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
“All the world’s a stage,” Jacques, Tiana Kaye Blair, sings at the top of the show, introducing the sold-out house to the magical world of As You Like It. The Dallas Theater Center and Public Works Dallas seem out to prove this point by filling the stage at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theater with nearly two hundred wonderfully enthusiastic and proud performers from all parts of Dallas. People of every age, race, and sexual orientation grace the stage, and us, with their wildly entertaining performances. Led by five professional actors, these fellow Dallasites give their everything to tell this story of love and redemption, largely set in the mythical Forest of Arden. If the purpose of this project is to introduce the diversity of Dallas to its audience, and “non-performers” to the experience of being involved in a theatrical production, then the show is an unqualified success. Before our eyes, we see that no matter who you are, or what your gifts may be, coming together to work for a common goal can yield spectacular results.
“Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak.”
Using Shakespeare’s As You Like It as a starting point, Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery have come up with a musical adaptation (music and lyrics also by Shaina Taub) that is a delight to watch and listen to. It’s an evening filled with optimism and confidence, and the huge crowd on opening night was with the company every second, smiling, laughing, and applauding often and loudly, leaping to their feet when the evening concluded.
“Love is merely a madness…”
Leading the happy group of revelers are Tiffany Solano DeSena as Rosalind, and Christopher Llewyn Ramirez as Orlando, playing the young lovers whose story drives the plot. These two outstanding performers have great chemistry together on stage, and trained singing voices that are a pleasure to hear. Ms. DeSena has a lot deal of fun pretending to be Ganymede, a young man, without ever losing her inner Rosalind. Mr. Ramirez gets to show off his dance moves in the infectious song and dance number, “Will You be my Bride?” These two charismatic performers create strong, multi-leveled characterizations, and light up the stage.
Duke Senior is played by the always dependably excellent Alex Organ with his usual commanding stage presence. He also gets to sing “Under the Greenwood Tree,” one of the more memorable songs from the show. Rebecca Weber is Celia, Rosalind’s cousin and friend who accompanies her to the Forest of Arden. She fills the character with wonderful warmth and humor. Ace Anderson is Touchstone, the clown, and he takes every opportunity to exercise his comic chops with his dry and dead-on delivery. Edmund Simpson II is equally funny as Andy (Audrey in Shakespeare’s play), Touchstone’s love interest. They form one of the two same-sex comedy couples in the show, with Ruthy Suni and Tamika S. Sanders as Silvia (Silvius) and Phoebe. This second couple also gets lots of comedic bits, and nails every one of them. Tiana Kaye Blair seems somewhat underused in the role of Jaques, but makes each of her appearances count. She gets to sing the haunting “All the World’s a Stage.”
“I pray you, do not fall in love with me, for I am falser than vows made in wine.”
There are lots of children costumed as “Deer of the Forest,” and so many other members of the community who fill numerous roles throughout the show. Some have a line or two, some have more complex characters like Rogelio “Roger” Pena who plays Oliver, brother to Orlando, and Fredrick Jones who plays Duke Frederick, complete with hobby horse! Dancing and singing, moving the story forward, all of these participants are there to create a whole that no single performer could do alone. There are wrestlers, fans, people of the court, and on and on. In each case, these individuals, or groups have a presence that adds to the total effect of the production. The Dallas Kiyari Dance are responsible for a stunning drum number that is thrilling to watch, and the Jiu Long Lion Dance Troupe provide a fun and wonderful Dragon Dance that is exciting and beautiful. The Wylie High school Pirate Choir Department also do their part to complete this round up of talent.
The entire cast, mostly made up of volunteers from the community centers participating in the Public Works Dallas endeavor, is composed of enthusiastic participants, many of them children, who are captivating in their obvious commitment and delight at being part of such an event. Each have their moment in the spotlight, and each comes through with flying colors.
Scenery and Costumes are designed by Lex Liang. The scenery is minimal, leaving the thrust stage free for the crowds of players who occupy it. The upstage orchestra is behind a fence draped in lights, and there is also a fence across the stage at the beginning of the show that later moves out of the way. (Is there a current reference here?) Overhead is a wonderful piece composed of branches and great blossoms of pink flowers. Later, a tree descends to complete the Forest of Arden setting. There are also set pieces that move on and off, and various articles used for seating. It all works well for the production, enhancing without overwhelming. Costumes range widely from dressy outfits to work clothes, and wrestling costumes that light up! Jason Hayes completes the looks of the characters with appropriate Hair and Make-Up Design.
Lighting Designer Amanda West creates location with gobos throwing patterns on the floor, shifting areas of color and intensity, and creates moods appropriate for each moment. Andrea Allmond does the atmospheric sound design. Music Director Vonda K. Bowling has put together a small, but talented, group of musicians who play the music that is almost constant throughout the show. The singers have been well trained and rehearsed, and the musical numbers are all exciting and memorable.
Ann Yee has the daunting job of directing and choreographing this enormous undertaking, and doesn’t falter. The show moves smoothly, large groups work as units, and smaller scenes prove interesting to watch, with emphasis and focus where it needs to be. All areas of the space are used, including the balconies for placement of the cast, making the evening an immersive experience. The dance numbers are original and enthusiastic and offer fun splashes of contemporary moves. The play has great momentum, the moments are taken, and the arc of the story is clearly defined. The adaptation by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery works as an entertainment and a good vehicle for using community. The music and lyrics by Shaina Taub are tuneful and thoroughly enjoyable.
“Time travels in diverse paces with diverse persons…”
The show ends with the entire cast singing “Still I Will Love,” an anthem to harmony, reconciliation, and forgiveness. In this coming together of the multicultural and multitalented population of our community, we see highlighted the many distinct approaches to expression. Different as they may be, all are alike in our need to manifest ourselves in a unique celebration of life. By bringing together such a wide range of individuals, and involving them as one in a project that demands empathy and teamwork, The Dallas Theater Center, Public Works Dallas, and all those involved, are to be commended and encouraged to continue their work to bring mutual respect and oneness to our community. This “invasion” of talent and cooperation is the kind of “invasions” that break down walls and fosters true togetherness. The obvious pleasure reflected on the faces of the cast, and the delighted and enthusiastic acceptance by the audience, only underscore the success of the project in meeting its goals.
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
The Dallas Theater Center
2400 Flora St
Dallas, TX 75201
Final Performance on Sunday, August 18th, 2019