A modern twist on Shakespeare’s sophisticated and bewitching comedy

SAN JOSE, CA (August 20, 2009) — Ever consider leaving it all behind? Duke Senior has done just that. Forced into exile by his brother, Duke Senior has embraced the Forest of Arden as his home and left the rat race of the royal courts behind. This fall, San Jose Rep invites theatre-goers to leave it all behind, too, as the company opens its 2009-2010 season with what the New York Times hails as “Shakespeare’s finest comedy,” As You Like It. Artistic Director Rick Lombardo’s inaugural production is a contemporary re-imagining of this wicked tale of sibling rivalry, royals in exile, mistaken identities, cross dressing and “love at first sight.” Previews for As You Like It begin Saturday, August 29, and opening night is Friday, September 4. The show closes Sunday, September 27. Press Opening is Friday, September 4 at 8:00 p.m.

“I’ve been inspired by Silicon Valley in putting this production together,” Lombardo comments. “With technology so omnipresent in our modern lives, I’m even more fascinated by Shakespeare’s theme of the power of nature to heal the heart and the soul, and his notion of the necessity of a return to “older virtues” to nourish our lives. I love the fact that we’ll be telling this story using some of the most advanced technology available for the stage, which will create a powerful and very, very modern feeling to the world of the play.”

While Duke Senior (Andy Murray) sets up camp in the Forest of Arden, his daughter, Rosalind, (Anna Bullard), who was allowed to remain back at court because of her friendship with her cousin Celia (Cristi Miles), is now perceived as a threat. Rosalind flees with Celia (BFF) and the clown, Touchstone, (Steve Irish) to seek refuge with the denizens of Arden, including Orlando (Blake Ellis), the man Rosalind loves. Disguised as a boy, Rosalind teaches Orlando how to woo—her! The royal romance between Rosalind and Orlando is played out amidst battling brothers, mishap adventures and chance encounters that lead to hilarity! Artistic Director Rick Lombardo’s inaugural production will also emphasize the transformative power of romantic love and nature’s force to heal the scars of political and technological oppression.

Rick Lombardo is in his second season as Artistic Director of San Jose Rep. He was previously the Artistic Director for thirteen years at the award-winning New Repertory Theatre, the leading mid-size resident theatre in the greater Boston area. Last spring, he was awarded the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence from the Boston Theatre Critics Association for his work at New Rep. He has also been the recipient of four individual Elliot Norton Awards and is a nine-time winner of the “IRNE” award for his productions of The Clean House, Sweeney Todd, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ragtime, Waiting for Godot and The Weir. His world premiere of According to Tip transferred to Boston’s theatre district last fall. His New Rep production of Bill W. and Dr. Bob enjoyed an extended run off-Broadway in 2006.

Tickets are available at the San Jose Rep Box Office at 101 Paseo de San Antonio or can be purchased online at www or by calling 408.367.7255.

As You Like It features some of the Bay Area’s finest actors. Returning to San Jose Rep’s stage are Anna Bullard (Rosalind), James Carpenter (Jaques/Old Adam), Steve Irish (Touchstone), Craig Marker (Charles/Silvius), Andy Murray (Duke Senior/Duke Frederick/Corin) and Adam Yazbeck (Oliver). Bullard appeared last season in The Foreigner and Around the World in 80 Days. Additional credits include Ophelia in the educational DVD This is Hamlet, Collected Stories with Carol Mayo Jenkins at Cinnabar Theater. Carpenter appeared last season as Pablo Picasso in A Picasso. His many credits include performances at American Conservatory Theatre, The Old Globe Theatre, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Intiman Theatre. Irish appeared last season in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and The Foreigner. Other Bay Area credits include Sex at the Aurora Theater; Enchanted April and Nixon’s Nixon at Center Rep; and Man and Superman at California Shakespeare Theater. Marker appeared at the Rep in The Foreigner, Iphigenia at Aulis and The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow. His other Bay Area credits include Romeo and Juliet at California Shakespeare Theater, Third at TheatreWorks and Love’s Labour’s Lost at San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. Murray last appeared at San Jose Rep in Rabbit Hole. He has worked at American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and California Shakespeare Theater. Yazbeck appeared in last season’s world premiere of The Kite Runner.

Making their San Jose Repertory Theatre debuts are Jayne Deely (Phebe), Blake Ellis (Orlando), Cristi Miles (Celia), Sepideh Moafi (Audrey/Amiens), Alexander Prather (LeBeau/William) and Jonathan Shue (Dennis/Martext/Jaques de Boys). Deely was most recently seen as Natalie in the regional premiere of Distracted at TheatreWorks. Ellis was last seen in Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Miles has worked with Teatro Milagro, Actors’ Shakespeare Project and New Repertory Theatre. Moafi has performed at venues including The Kennedy Center and Davis Symphony Hall. Prather is a recent graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles. Shue has appeared in The Importance of Being Earnest, Rough Crossing and The Matchmaker.

As You Like It was collaborated on by a team of talented and creative designers. David Lee Cuthbert (Media and Scenic Designer) has designed lights for several Rep productions including The Kite Runner and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He designed Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays on Broadway and its U.S., Canadian and Australian tours. B. Modern (Costume Designer) has designed costumes for over 35 productions at San Jose Rep. She has worked at many prestigious theatres around the nation and is an Associate Artist at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and at Geva Theatre Center, New York. Dan Meeker’s (Lighting Designer) lighting credits in New York include, Rock Doves at the Irish Arts Center, which garnered a Hayes Award nomination. Haddon Givens Kime’s (Original Music and Sound Designer) off-Broadway work includes scores for The Atheist, The Blowin of Baile Gall, and Haymarket by Zayd Dohrn. He is the recipient of the 2008 IRNE award for his score and sound design for New Rep’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Dave Maier’s (Fight Director) recent work includes Private Lives and Romeo & Juliet at California Shakespeare Theater and The Lieutenant of Inishmore at Berkeley Rep. Amanda Folena (Movement Consultant) has earned many awards including a Jack Nicholson Award for Best Actress, the USC Dance Award for Best Choreographer and the National Irene Ryan Award at the Kennedy Center ACTF National Competition in Washington, D.C. Folena is currently on the artistic staff at City Lights Theater Company in San Jose. The stage manager is Laxmi Kumaran.

As You Like It is sponsored by Hitachi Data Systems and supported, in part, by a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San Jose.

Monica Turner
Contributor to Stark Insider for tech, the arts and All Things West Coast for over 10 years.