Ring Theatre puts modern spin on Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’

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“As You Like It” is one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved plays. It’s a staple of high-school English curriculums across the country and the world. This month, UM students will have a chance to see the Bard’s classic comedy come to life at the Ring Theatre.

Junior musical theatre major Ellie Goldenberg, who plays the lead role of Rosalind in the production, finds the play surprisingly relevant to her own life.

“All of the central characters are our age,” she said. “They may be princesses and adventurers, but they still deal with adult responsibilities, sibling rivalries and love triangles.”

“As You Like It” is an intricate story of romance, mistaken identities and political intrigue with a hearty dose of humor mixed in. It follows the story of young noblewomen, Rosalind and Celia, as they struggle to find their way in a world of feuding fathers, secret crushes and exiles in the Forest of Arden.

The cast began rehearsals with a week of table work. This gave the actors a chance to work through Shakespeare’s complex poetry and begin shaping their characters before putting the show on its feet.

“The process was pretty typical despite the fact that we were working on Shakespeare,” Goldenberg said. “But we definitely paid close attention to the language and making it accessible.”

Under the guidance of interim Ring Theatre Artistic Director Peter Ellenstein, the cast of “As You Like It” worked to perfect slapstick bits, fight choreography and folk music accompaniment, as well as their own particular acting choices.

“Each of us was given the freedom to experiment with different character choices and approach the classic story with our own contemporary ideas,” Goldenberg said.

Goldenberg had the special challenge of crafting a different persona for her role.

“Rosalind spends much of the play disguised as a man,” she said. “So I had to get in touch with my masculine side!”

Would 21st-century college students enjoy a romance that is far from the era of “Netflix and chill” and Tinder? Goldenberg is confident that the answer is yes.

“Even though Shakespeare wrote 400 years ago, his characters still speak to a modern audience with lots of wit and humor,” she said.

If you go:

What: “As You Like It”

Where: The Jerry Herman Ring Theatre

When: February 17-27; 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Cost: $25 regular admission, $10 student tickets and free with a Cane Card on Totally Tuesday

For more information, call 305-284-3355 or visit as.miami.edu/ringtheatre/.

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