Portland Shakespeare Project began its first season with As You Like It, William Shakespeare’s wonderful comedic play about romance in the Forest of Arden. As You Like It ran from July 15 through August 7 on the Morrison Stage at Artists Repertory Theatre.
As You Like It was directed by Artistic Director Michael Mendelson and featured Darius Pierce as Touchstone, Cristi Miles as Rosalind, Melisa Whitney as Celia, Jill Westerby as Jacques, Andy Lee-Hilstrom as Silvius, Dana Millican as Phoebe, Dave Bodin as Corin, Jake Street as Orlando, Tony St. Claire as Oliver, Tom Walton as Jaque De Boys and Charles, and Rhiana Walton as Audrey.
Original music for As You Like It was composed by Portland’s own singer and songwriter, Mary Kadderly; you can visit Mary’s website and listen to her music at https://www.marykadderly.com.
PHOTOS FROM REHEARSALS OF AS YOU LIKE IT
REVIEWS OF AS YOU LIKE IT
Ben Waterhouse in Willamette Week said:
“The debut performance of Michael Mendelson’s Portland Shakespeare Project is a triumphant success, presenting one of Shakespeare’s most problematic comedies on an intimate, human scale with an exuberant focus on wordplay.
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“It is a lovely production and bodes well for the company’s future.”
Richard Wattenberg in the The Oregonian said:
“As You Like It” is more than an upbeat romance, and, as directed by Michael Mendelson, the new company’s artistic director, this production successfully negotiated the piece’s complexity. There’s a lot of fun and humor here, but Mendelson and company have not lost sight of the play’s darker tones.
“. . . the large very talented 21-person cast makes sure that laughs abound, even as this production illuminates the complexity and density of Shakespeare’s comic vision. Portland Shakespeare Project seems to be off to a good start.”
Jacob Schraer in the Portland Mercury said:
” . . . this production is an absolute delight.”
Barry Johnson of Oregon ArtsWatch said:
“. . . a well-spoken, fully committed, swiftly moving ‘As You Like It’.”
In a longer review, Barry Johnson in OPB Arts & Life said:
“As You Like It is a fine place to open accounts for a new Shakespeare company, specifically with Rosalind, the wise, witty, passionate and courageous sweetheart at the center of the play. She’s one of Shakespeare’s finest creations; through her he satirizes old ideas about love and champions new ones. And she reduces gender stereotypes to ashes in the process.
“Cristi Miles gave a good account of her for the Portland Shakespeare Project, the brainchild of Michael Mendelson, its artistic director and the director of As You Like It. Mendelson’s own fine acting is on the hot side, so I didn’t expect a confectionery As You Like It. On the other hand, I didn’t expect Miles and the other principles (Darius Pierce as the jester Touchstone and Jake Street as Rosalind’s love interest Orlando) to play their roles quite this ferociously, with stretches of downright existential anger.
“This darker approach crackled with heat lightning, but it also made it hard to shift our conception of Orlando from the violent strangler at the beginning to the lovesick poet he becomes. And when Rosalind’s love hysteria lurches into the red zone, it makes the sweet resolution at the end of the play feel more like an uneasy peace. I think of this As You Like It as one for our times, though, because anger runs molten through the national culture these days. And even the Forest of Arden is no escape.”
2011 – COMPLEAT FEMALE STAGE BEAUTY
During its first season, Portland Shakespeare Project also did a staged reading of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Compleat Female Stage Beauty, a poignant comedy about theatre in England when men still played the roles of women.
2011 – CLASSES AND LECTURES
Portland Shakespeare Project also offered a series of lectures, weekend intensives and classes for actors, those interested in becoming actors, including students, and everyone who loves the theatre. Weekend intensives were taught by Louis Fantasia, Michael Nehring, and Eve Roberts, and a variety of classes will be offered by Jonathan Cole, Jon Kretzu, Sarah Lucht, Michael Mendelson, Luisa Sermol, and Grant Turner.
OTHER COMMENTS ABOUT PORTLAND SHAKESPEARE PROJECT
Read Richard Wattenberg’s full review in The Oregonian in which he called As You Like It “a winning debut for Portland Shakespeare Project.”
Marty Hughley wrote about Portland Shakespeare Project and the vision of its founders in The Oregonian.
Visit the blog to read Michael Nehring’s comments about teaching Misner during last summer’s weekend intensive at Portland Shakespeare Project and the state of the theatre in America.
As Marty Hughley noted in The Oregonian, you don’t have to drive to Ashland to see great Shakespeare.
Don’t miss Bob Hicks’s Interview of Artistic Director, Michael Mendleson, in his Arts Scatter Blog, in May 2011: “Big Casts, Big Dreams and the Allure of the Classics” at https://www.artscatter.com/general/whats-old-is-new-wm-shkspr-in-pdx/.