Shakespeare’s musical comedy “As You Like It” — which debuted around 1599 — will be produced at Gloucester Stage starting tonight, as the Cape Ann Shakespeare Troupe launches its sixth season.
Just for fun, there will be a red carpet opening tonight for anyone who wants to don gala attire, and receive a commemorative gift for the effort. All are welcome to join the cast at a reception after the performance.
The show runs two weekends, Thursday through Sunday, at the Gorton Theater at Gloucester Stage Company.
Director Joseph Stiliano said the play is widely considered Shakespeare’s most approachable. The story revolves around Rosalind, who disguises herself as a boy so that she can travel safely through the forest to join her banished mother, the Duchess and her royal courtiers, he said.
“Boys will be boys, and sometimes girls will be boys — but that only makes things more interesting,” said Stiliano. He noted that this is the most prominent female role created by the bard, even though she is primarily dressed as a man.
This witty comedy is known for poking fun at both the corruption of court life and romance.
The cast includes Jonathan Arnold, Henry Cooper, Olivia Gale, Ashlee Holm, Andrew Hoover, Beebe Nelson, Nick Neyeloff, Dominic Parry, Nate Punches, Jim Robinson, Donald Roby, Jessie Sorrells, Lauren Suchecki, Stephen Turner, Daria Whittaker and Jayson Winer.
The plot becomes more befuddled when Rosalind meets Orlando — while in disguise — and falls in love with him, and then teaches him about the art of love. A host of other characters fall into the mix for a colorful cast.
Stiliano said the music for the six songs has been long lost, except for one song. But North Shore musician Sirkka Natti composed music for this production.
“Of course, with music comes dance, and Carl Thomsen, well known on the North Shore for his inspired choreography, has staged the dance sequences called for in the text,” said Stiliano. “The songs lighten the spirit and delight the ear, delivering great fun for an audience of all ages.”