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All the park's a stage PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Thursday, 30 May 2013 09:49
Quincy Thomas (middle) and Lynette Cooley (right) are seen in a production of "As You Like It" May 28, 2013 at City Park in Bowling Green, Ohio. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
No doubt "As You Like It" is a Shakespeare comedy.
It's got a maid masquerading as a man. Court intrigue involving brothers. Exiles, and bumptious rubes, and a clown whose words sometimes verge on wisdom.
The script is replete with felicitous turns of phrase - "It is like the howling of Irish wolves" and "falser than oaths made in wine" - and expressions that have worked their way into everyday speech - "too much of a good thing" and "all the world's a stage."
That includes Needle Hall in Bowling Green's City Park.
No doubt this is a Beautiful Kids Independent Shakespeare production. The costumes and props are minimal. Unintended sound effects of beeping car horns and kids laughing in the nearby playground are part of the soundtrack.
Women play some of the male roles, including Bailey Oswald in the lead as Orlando, and several people assume several roles.
Most importantly, the Shakespeare comedy was delivered with care, even love, and colored by a generous dollop of irreverence. Beautiful Kids never forgets that before they were fodder for high school English classes, Shakespeare's plays were entertainment .
"As You Like It" will be staged in the park tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. with a 1 p.m. matinee Saturday.
The rehearsal Tuesday was held inside because of threatening weather, but that didn't matter. "As You Like It," as in previous productions, very much has a sense of play. Just a bunch of enthusiastic kids acting out in blank verse.
They pay a great deal of attention to articulation, and natural delivery. When Patrick Konesko speaks the famous "all the world's a stage" soliloquy, he moves along the cast members on stage, using each character as a model for each stage of life delineated in the speech, making it flow within the play rather than standing out like a guitar solo.
So for those of you wondering ""As You Like It ...  which one is that?" it is: the comedy in which Rosalind (Trina Friedberg) flees the court of Duke Frederick (Jeff LaRocque) her usurper uncle with her best friend and the Frederick's daughter Celia (Brigid Randolph) and the jester Touchstone (Quincy Thomas). In disguise they venture into the Forest of Arden where the rightful ruler Duke Senior (Michael Portteus) is in hiding with his coterie including the morose Jaques. His son Orlando has also fled Frederick's court after besting the champion wrestler (Jerry Kowalski).
As Orlando, Oswald comes off as a credible combatant, quite comfortable with tossing a body around.
In the woods they encounter the country folk including Audrey (Miriam Hahn) who falls in love with Rosalind, who is disguised as a man, and Silvius (LaRocque) who loves Audrey.
This being a Shakespeare comedy, all this is sorted out and resolved in the end.
The play includes a number of song lyrics that have been set to new music over the years. Beautiful Kids gives a rough, twisted take on the songs (with a few added tunes) delivering them as punk jazz, a Big Easy march, old-time country and even a barbershop quartet.
It's all in good fun, which is why the troupe has continued to attract cast and crew for 17 years.
Liz Robertson, the show's assistant director, is in her second year with the troupe. She described herself as "a big Shakespeare nerd." As with many of the college age participants, she's extended her stay in Bowling Green and took time off from her job to participate.
Troupe members do it to experience "the closeness you have to achieve to get it to this point."
Beautiful Kids, Robertson said, is dedicated to propagating the idea that "Shakespeare is not hard. Shakespeare is easy. Shakespeare is fun for everyone."
And the troupe draws a wide swath of talent into its ranks from high school kids, college students and community members, stage manager Brittany (Pausch) Albrecht said. Its influence has spread throughout the community to Lionface Productions, founded by  Beautiful Kids veterans, and Horizon Youth Theatre, which draws on the troupe's talents to help guide the young thespians.
For her the thrill of being in the company comes from having a shifting band of players drawn together by their love of performing Shakespeare.
Albrecht first encountered the troupe as a local teenager. The 2010 Bowling Green High graduate first saw Beautiful Kids perform "A Midsummer Night's Dream" when she was still in high school and had just performed the comedy in school. She was struck at how professional and polished the play in the park was.
She signed on the next summer and recruited Ryan Albrecht to the cause.
When the two married earlier this month they exchanged vows on the Needle Hall stage. Talk about a happy ending.
Last Updated on Thursday, 30 May 2013 11:02

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