Tuesday, February 15, 2011

As You Like It at The Lyric in Blacksburg

Jonathan Holtzman and Rick Blunt in "As You Like It." Photo by Tommy Thompson.
We attended the American Shakespeare Center's "Reckless Ecstasy" troupe's performance of "As You Like It" at The Lyric in Blacksburg, VA on Feb. 11. The Lyric is a 1930s era movie house, downtown, across from Virginia Tech. The show was sold out and I'd estimate there were probably 500 in attendance. We sat on stage for the show. The stage was pretty small, so I had to move my feet out of the way quite a few times so the actors wouldn't trip over me. Knowing this troupe quite well, I was brought into the action quite a bit, which is always pretty fun.

This was the second performance of "As You Like It" I had seen on this tour and it was well-seasoned and excellent. This was a weird crowd, however. I was expecting it to be more of a college age, but it was an older, definitely middle aged crowd. They were appreciative of the show, calling the actors out for three curtain calls in addition to the ending ovation, but only about half of the crowd gave them a standing ovation, which I thought was strange. Early in the show it seemed like the funny spots were going over most of the crowd's collective head. I later talked to several people who attended and sat out in the audience who said that the acoustics are bad and that it was hard to understand everything being said unless the actors were facing the crowd.

Despite the shaky crowd, the actors were on top of their game. Jonathan Holtzman's Charles is always a pleasure to see (and hear); Rick Blunt, as always is hilarious as the fool Touchstone, and Chad Bradford is excellent as the love struck Orlando. Denice Burbach and Brandi Rhome play off each other brilliantly as Rosalind and Celia. Daniel Jimenez is great as the conniving Oliver, and Jake Mahler is outstanding as Adam. The loveplay between Dennis Henry's whining Silvius and Kelley McKinnon's Phoebe is not to be missed. You still have a few opportunities to see the troupe on the road and then they will be back in Staunton for the Spring season from April through June. I'm sure I'll be seeing each show a few more times.

After the show we had the troupe over to our place for a late dinner of Irish stew, pasta fagoli, chocolate chip scones, and the big hit of the night: chocolate chip crescent rolls. Needless to say, we all had a blast.

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