Music Makes Everything Greater

One of William Shakespeare's plays that holds a special place in my heart is As You Like It.  It was one of the Bard's first comedies that I had the great fortune to perform in way back in my younger days.  I've seen it a bunch of times, and even though as a script it has its flaws and doesn't measure up plotwise to some of Shakespeare's other classics, it still remains one of my favorites.  After seeing a production of it Thursday night by the LawnChair Theater company, I am continually amazed that the talented cast, crew, and director can bring the old story to life again in a fresh, contemporary way.  One of the key elements that made the show so enjoyable and such a success was the addition of music.

There were plenty of moments throughout the play that showcased the inventiveness of director Tal Aviezer and assistant director Emma Green, including dramatizations of scenes in the play that are usually only spoken about -- seeing them come to life through action and puppets instead of just being exposition was wonderful and kept the audience engaged with the story.  I've seen the wrestling scene re-imagined numerous different ways over the years, but I was thoroughly delighted and surprised by LawnChair's modern version. The enthusiastic cast also provided excellent choices throughout their performances and their energy was infectious. 

The musical numbers were the highlight of the evening.  Catchy and rousing, they made me want to jump out of my chair and join the merriment on stage.  Kudos to the musical director Josh Carriero, the choreographer Danielle Aviezer, and the band.  Special praise to Lisa Spielman, Jason Cocovinis, and Peter Green for their individual musical performances.  The rest of the cast was outstanding too, especially during the showstopper, a new version of a pop tune that became notoriously viral this summer.  (I will spoil it no further!)

The full cast included: Mario Fuentes as Orlando, John Fotia as Adam, Larry J. Reina as Oliver, Connor Antico as Charles, Maureen Fleming as Celia, Rasha Clark as Rosalind, Scott Faubel as Touchstone, Charles Scatamacchia as Duke Frederick, Gwendolyn Wiegold as LeBeau, Elliot Robinson as Duke Senior, Lisa Spielman as Amiens, Jason Cocovinis as Silvius, Craig Campanaro as Corin, Peter Green as Jaques, Liana Bekker as Audrey, Kyle Thomas as William, Charles Krause as Sir Oliver Martext, Kimberly Lowden as Phebe, and Dara Gold, Claudia Marino, Rhea Sandstrom, and Rossither Saez rounding it all out in the Ensemble (which included award-worthy portrayals of sheep).

The show is presented through the Port Chester Council for the Arts (celebrating its 30th anniversary) in cooperation with the Village of Port Chester Recreation Department.  There are a few more performances remaining, so catch it if you can.  Click here for details.