Friday, June 22, 2012

Quick Hit Theater Review: As You Like It

Donna Lynne Champlin and Oliver Platt. Photo : Joan Marcus
As You Like It
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Daniel Sullivan
The Public Theater's Shakespeare iin the Park

What is it all about?
When her Uncle, Duke Frederick (Andre Braugher) usurps his brother's throne, his niece, Rosalind (Lily Rabe), flees taking her cousin, his daughter, Celia (Rene Elise Goldsberry) and the court jester, Touchstone (Oliver Platt) with her to safety in the Forest of Arden. Orlando (David Furr) who previously fell in love with Rosalind, posts loves letters for her in the trees, but doesn't recognize her when he encounters her disguised as a man named Ganymede who attracts the love interest of a shepherdess, Phoebe (Susannah Flood) who herself has won the love of another shepherd, Silvius (Will Rogers). Hmmm. Sounds like a Shakespeare plot. Standing out from the ensemble also are Stephen Spinella as Jaques, an attendant of Rosalind's banished father; MacIntyre Dixon as a servant of Orlando and Andrew Hovelson as a clergyman, 

What are the highlights?
Any Shakespeare in the Park, celebrating its 50th year, is well worth it (tickets are free, after all). Wonderfully staged adaptations of the Bard (and other classics -- Into the Woods is this summer's second show beginning at the end of July). This one, famous for giving us the "all the world's a stage" lines, is particularly fun with a forest recreated (John Lee Beatty, design, with excellent lighting by Natasha Katz) against the already green backdrop of Central Park with terrific, twangy bluegrass music composed by Steve Martin and performed by a strolling quartet in period costume (designed by Jane Greewood). All of the performances are solid, with Rabe, Goldsberry and Spinella doing nice work, but really knocking performances out of the park, so to speak, are Furr and Platt.

What are the lowlights?
Not sure what the point of an 1840 southern setting, along with a western fort motif evoking "F Troop" does to enhance the story except maybe to provide a setting for Martin's tunes. Unbelievably long lines for the far-from-clean women's restroom. Public Fare, the little cafe at the Delacorte Theater, has cut back on the variety of delicious sandwiches that used to be offered. Now, there's just one turkey sandwich which unfortunately comes pre-made with a mayonnaise, and several versions of a hot dog, which you can purchase from park vendors any way. Other salads and snacks are available.

More information:
As You Like It, which began performances on June 5, officially opened, according to the Public, last night, and runs through June 30. Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park are free, distributed, two per person, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park the day of the show. The Public Theater also offers free tickets through a lottery at on the day of the show.

The Delacorte Theater in Central Park is accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West or at 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Into the Woods, directed by Timothy Sheader with co-direction by Liam Steel, featuring Amy Adams (The Baker’s Wife),Jack Broderick (Narrator), Gideon Glick (Jack), Cooper Grodin (Rapunzel’s Prince), Ivan Hernandez (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf),Tina Johnson (Granny), Josh Lamon (Steward), Jessie Mueller (Cinderella), Donna Murphy (The Witch), Laura Shoop (Cinderella’s Mother), and Tess Soltau (Rapunzel), begins previews on Monday, July 23 and continues through Aug. 25.

Christians might also like to know:
-- No notes. Enjoy, but note that younger kids might have a hard time sitting quietly through the two-hour-45-minute performance (one intermission).

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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