TFMS Department Takes on Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”

All the world’s a stage this fall for the Theater, Film and Media Studies Department members as they prepare for their first production of the 2011-2012 season, William Shakespeare’s comedy “As You Like It.”

Directed by the TFMS Department’s Michael Ellis-Tolaydo, “As You Like It” tells the comedic tale that follows heroine Rosalind (first-year Emma Kaufman) through the Forest of Arden after she has been banished by the wrathful Lady Fredrick (senior Briana Manente). But before she is banished, Rosalind falls in love with Orlando, (junior Nick Huber) after he defeats the professional wrestler Charles in a match in which Lady Fredrick and Orlando’s spiteful brother, Oliver, are sure he would lose.

After winning the match, to escape the fury of Lady Fredrick, Orlando flees to the Forest of Arden with his servant, Adam. Rosalind is joined in the forest by her cousin, Celia (sophomore Katie Henry). While in the forest, and with a comedic twist of events, Orlando, Rosalind, and company search to find both refuge and love.

With the first week of rehearsals under their belt, the TFMS department is going into this play with much anticipation. “It’s the most anticipated show since I’ve been here,” said Huber, who has been participating in every show since his first year.

“As You Like It” is the College’s first Shakespeare play since October 2007, when the TFMS Department put on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“We try to do [a Shakespeare play] about every three to four years. It’s usually very successful,” Ellis-Tolaydo said.

“Shakespeare brings out the best in everyone and gives off a great energy,” Manente said. “The spirit of ‘As You Like It’ is just fun.”

Auditions for the play took place on Aug. 31 and callbacks were on Sept. 1. Out of the 46 students who tried out, roughly 22 are in the final cast, most of whom are female.

Because of this situation, Ellis-Tolaydo decided to change the gender of some of the roles to allow the most possible talent to be utilized. “We have a lot of talented female actors this year,” Ellis-Tolaydo said, “so there were many possibilities for each part.”

Because of the surplus of female talent, Ellis-Tolaydo was able to find his need for chemistry between the character of Rosalind (Kaufman) and Celia. “In callbacks, I had all the Celias read with all the Rosalinds, trying to find the right match. There’s a sort of unspoken part of the relationship that needs to be there,” he said.

One role has even been double-cast for two female actors because “both of the actors are just so talented.” The most prominent role that has been flipped is that of Lady Fredrick, who, in the original Shakespeare play, is Duke Fredrick.

Aside from the Shakespeare hype, the multitude of talent alone has members of the TFMS department excited for the show. “There’s lots of new people, lots of young people, and lots of new energy,” said senior and assistant director Jonathan Wagner. “It’s always exciting to get new people in the department. It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out.”

“I think it will challenge the cast, and bring out the best in us all whether you’re a veteran in the department or new to main stage performing,” Manente said.

Performances run Oct. 13-15 and 20-22 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 16 and 23 at 2 p.m., as well as a special matinee performance on Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. in the Bruce Davis Theater in Montgomery Hall. Tickets are $4 for students, St. Mary’s staff, senior citizens, and Arts Alliance members, and $6 for general admission. For reservations, contact the Theater Box Office at 240-895-4243 (ext. 4243) or email boxoffice@smcm.edu.

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